Road Back to GOA

Covid 19 Updates

Golda Och Academy is tracking news and information about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community and travel destinations. This is a quickly evolving situation — please check this page regularly for updates.

2020-2021 Updates

List of 46 items.

  • March 22: April COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, our next round of mandatory COVID screenings will take place between Sunday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 7, for all of our students, faculty and staff. Once again, April's round of testing will be different than prior months, so please read the following information carefully.
     
    How will this April round of testing be different?
    Unlike the March round of testing, we will be remote the entire week of April 5. All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 7. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Sunday, April 11 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Monday, April 12. Students will not be permitted to return to campus without proper documentation received by the school. 
     
    All testing with PM Pediatrics will take place on Monday, April 5. The GOA-only window of testing for students will take place at the PM Pediatrics Livingston location from 8am-12pm and the testing for our faculty/staff will be done from 1-3pm on Monday at our Wilf Lower School Campus. 
     
    What if I have been traveling during Pesach?
     
    You are able to test on Monday, April 5 at PM Pediatrics (during our GOA-only time) if:
     
    • You and your family have not traveled outside of the CT/DE/NJ/NY/PA corridor during the break.
    • You and your family have traveled outside of the CT/DE/NJ/NY/PA corridor during the break AND have returned on or before Wednesday, March 31
     
    You are NOT able to test on or before Monday, April 5 if:
     
    • You and your family have traveled outside of the CT/DE/NJ/NY/PA corridor during the break AND returned AFTER Wednesday, March 31.
     
    Those who have returned to NJ after March 31, should consult the following chart to determine how long you will need to quarantine before testing for COVID:
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 7 (or later if returning from travel). All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Sunday, April 11 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Monday, April 12. Students will not be permitted to return to in-person learning without proper documentation uploaded to Magnus.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    Everyone must complete a PCR test. Rapid antigen and/or antibody tests are NOT acceptable.
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region.
     
    What do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth appointment followed by either visiting the Livingston location on April 5 in accordance with the schedule listed below or by scheduling an appointment during a different time that week. Additional information can be found below. 
     
    If the PM Pediatrics testing window for GOA is on Monday morning, what does this mean for classes that week?
    Given the many challenges around securing a time for so many members of our community to be tested, we are grateful that the team at PM Pediatrics has been able to clear Monday morning hours (8:00am-12pm in Livingston) for us. As such, recognizing that over 75% of our community have consistently tested with PMP, there will be no classes happening on Monday in order to provide time for students, faculty and staff to be tested. 
     
    We will have full days of remote instruction Tuesday through Friday.
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy
     
     
     
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    Should be scheduled to take place between 
    March 25 - April 1
     
    Student Covid-19 Testing Times & Locations
    While testing can take place throughout the entire testing window (and later if traveling), PM Pediatrics (Livingston) will be open just for GOA families on:
     
    Monday, April 5
    8:00am-12pm 
    at the Livingston location
     
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12pm-10pm in Livingston, 12pm-12am in Springfield, 12pm-10pm in North Brunswick or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
     
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: (973) 992-4767
     
    Virtual Telehealth Screening
     
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website,https://pmpediatrics.com/pmpanywhere. Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
     
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account (if you've already set one up previously you can use the same credentials). Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
     
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
     
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
     
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider.
     
    Following the telehealth visit, that’s it — there will be no need to schedule an appointment so long as you are planning to be tested on Monday, April 5 at PM Pediatrics Livingston. 
     
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
     
    For families testing on Monday, April 5 at PM Pediatrics, please arrive at their location at the following times based on the first initial of your last name:
     
    Last name A-F
    8:00 am-9:00 am 
     
    Last name G-L
    9:00 am-10:00 am
     
    Last name M-S
    10:00 am-11:00 am
     
    Last name T-Z
    11:00 am-11:50 am
     
    If you would like to request a different time to schedule (not during the designated testing on April 5 of 8-12 pm in Livingston) you may still use the scheduling link:https://pmpediatrics.com/covidbookvisit to set up a visit at any of the offices during the normal business hours.
     
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
     
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
     
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
     
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them. Once that documentation is received, it should be uploaded to the Magnus portal through the Golda Och Academy website. Additionally, anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
     
    **Please note that, per state reporting guidelines, 
    all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.**
     
    If you have specific questions for the PM Pediatrics team, you can call their Livingston office directly at (973) 992-4767.
  • March 20: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Shavuah tov. In an effort to maintain our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID, I am writing to inform you that a 7th grade student received a positive COVID test result today. This student does not have any siblings in our school. Seeing as this student was last in school with their classmates on Thursday, we have made the decision to quarantine our 7th grade students and shift them all to remote instruction this week. The 14-day quarantine period will run until Thursday, April 1 and thus our 7th grade students will be able to test during our mandatory testing window (in the week following Pesach Break) in advance of all students and faculty returning for in-person learning on Monday, April 12. 
     
    Out of an abundance of caution, we are putting the entire grade on a mandatory quarantine at this time because they would be considered “contacts” of the student who tested positive. Families should do their absolute best to keep those who are quarantining at home away from all other family members (and should consider masking at home as well). With this in mind, the siblings of our 7th grade students are all considered “contacts of contacts” and are not required to quarantine out of school at this time. 
     
    As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student is from. If anyone had close contact with this student outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. This student, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. The family has also been in touch directly with Nurse Ilena who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 10: March COVID Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    This Friday, March 12, at 11:08am (to be exact!) will mark the one year anniversary of my Head of School message regarding our shift to remote instruction due to the rising cases and spread of Covid-19 in our country. In that message, I laid out a plan for our school to go fully remote for six weeks through the end of Pesach break. I have vivid memories of stopping to think about the herculean effort — on the part of our faculty, administrative team, students and parents — that would be necessary in order to turn our school on a dime and shift to a modality (within a matter of days) that none of us had ever experienced. One year later, I continue to be in awe of all that we’ve accomplished and all that has been learned since that fateful day in March. 
     
    So much has changed in 12 months. Sadly, this virus has claimed far too many lives and no one within our GOA community has been able to remain fully insulated from loss in one form or another. While we continue to remain vigilant as the light at the end of the tunnel gets ever so brighter, I do believe it important for us all to take a moment and pause to think about all that we have learned — and all that we have come to appreciate — since this pandemic began.    
     
    It is the strength and resolve of our community that has enabled us to remain in-person, five-days a week, since September and I want to thank you all for once again fully complying with our mandatory COVID testing window this week. I am pleased to let you know that we have no positive cases to report at this time, with a very small number of families who have not yet uploaded results. As per our policy, those students will remain on remote instruction until we have those results on file. Additionally, our desire to abridge the remote week and return to school in person tomorrow (Thursday) has been successful thanks to everyone taking this testing requirement seriously and uploading results promptly. While we are hopeful to replicate this during our testing week in May, please note that the week following Pesach will be fully remote and we will keep with our original plan to return for in-person learning on Monday, April 12. More information about our next testing week will follow.   
     
    While much of our state remains in the High Risk (orange) zone on the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix, we continue to follow all of the precautionary measures associated with this distinction. Should our county return to the Moderate Risk (yellow) zone, we will notify you and adjust our protocols accordingly. As a reminder, the high risk zone on the matrix requires that if a staff member or student is COVID+ or has exhibited COVID compatible symptoms (not yet confirmed by testing), our school is required to follow the COVID exclusion criteria and put either a specific grade-level or group of students into a precautionary quarantine. The decision as to whether to end the precautionary quarantine or shift it to a mandatory quarantine happens in accordance with CDC and Department of Health guidance and following medical evaluation and COVID-19 test results for the student/staff member who has exhibited symptoms. Please note that GOA continues to require a 14-day quarantine/isolation based on exposure and/or a positive COVID test.  
     
    Looking forward to welcoming our students, teachers and staff back to school tomorrow.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • March 4: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In an effort to maintain our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID, I am writing to inform you that an 11th grade student received a positive COVID test result this morning. This student was last in school with their classmates on Monday, and thus we have made the decision to quarantine our 11th grade students beginning after lunch today. Mr. Herskowitz will be meeting with all of our 11th graders this morning to discuss this further. Those students who drive will be dismissed to leave and all others should be picked up at noon. The final 3 periods of the day (beginning at 1pm) will be conducted via Zoom. 
     
    This 11th grade student does have a sibling in 9th grade. The sibling is not in school today and, based on contact tracing, was not considered a close contact when they were last in school. While this student is now home under quarantine, it does not impact the rest of our 9th grade students. Should anything change, or should we learn additional information, we will be back in touch accordingly. 
     
    With this confirmed positive test, our 11th grade students will begin a 14-day quarantine period. Recognizing that the student was last in school on Monday, the quarantine period will end for our 11th grade students on Monday, March 15 and they will all be permitted to return for in-person instruction on Tuesday, March 16. Out of an abundance of caution, we are putting the entire grade on a mandatory quarantine at this time because they would be considered “contacts” of the student who tested positive. Families should do their absolute best to keep those who are quarantining at home away from all other family members (and should consider masking at home as well). With this in mind, the siblings of our 11th grade students are all considered “contacts of contacts” and are not required to quarantine out of school at this time. 
     
    Please note that our entire school will be going through COVID testing next week. All students, including our 11th graders, must submit a negative PCR test result taken during our required testing window of March 7-9.
     
    As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student is from. If anyone had close contact with this student outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. This student, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. The family has also been in touch directly with Nurse Ilena who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • March 3: Updated Guidelines for Quarantine Following Travel

    In anticipation of our upcoming Pesach break, please review the following updated quarantine guidelines. As you will see, the guidance continues to evolve and we will keep our GOA community apprised of future updates as we learn of them. Additionally, please be reminded that the week following Pesach (April 5-April 9) will be a remote instruction week for all students and faculty. More information, including the schedule for testing and instruction will follow.   
     
    Updated Guidelines for Quarantine Following Travel 
     
    As per the NJDOH and CDC guidelines, the following is the current, updated (as of March 2021) guidance for quarantine and testing upon returning from travel (beyond NY, PA, CT and DE). Families are asked to follow these guidelines, tracking their post-quarantine days and providing test results (upon request) accordingly. Please note the day you return back to NJ is Day #0. The day after return to NJ is Day #1. As always, please notify Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta if you are traveling so that they can provide specific guidance for your family.
     
    New Jersey – and Golda Och Academy – continue to strongly discourage all non-essential interstate travel at this time. 
     
    For those who must travel, travelers and residents returning from any U.S. state beyond the immediate region (NY, CT, PA, and DE) should self-quarantine while following recommendations from the CDC:
     
    • COVID (PCR) test should be taken on or after day #5; If travelers test negative, they should quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
    • If not tested (or if the results are delayed), travelers should quarantine for 10 days after travel.
     
     
    Pesach break post-travel examples for quarantine
     
    Please note that everyone must receive a negative PCR test during the week following Pesach. Thus it is not an option for a family to simply quarantine for 10 days before returning to campus.
     
    Quarantine Guidelines for COVID Exposure 
     
    Recognizing that NJ remains in the Orange (high risk) Category on the NJDOH Matrix, there are no changes to our school’s quarantine policy due to exposure at this time.The quarantine for known COVID exposure as a household or close contact remains at 14 days. Should there be any changes made to this guidance and/or if our region’s status within the Orange Category changes, we will provide updates accordingly. 
  • February 22: March COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, our next round of mandatory COVID screenings will take place between Sunday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 9, for all of our students, faculty and staff. This round of testing will look different than previous rounds, so please read the following information carefully.
     
    How will this round of testing be different from the previous rounds?
    Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, and their desire to help us as we work to maximize in-person instructional time, it is our plan to shorten our testing window to March 7-9 with the goal of returning to in-person learning on Thursday, March 11. 
     
    All testing with PM Pediatrics will take place on Monday, March 8. The GOA-only window of testing for students will take place at the PM Pediatrics Livingston location from 8am-12pm and the testing for our faculty/staff will be done from 1-3pm on Monday at our Wilf Lower School Campus. 
     
    Thanks to the flexibility and commitment of our friends at PM Pediatrics, we will now be able to:
     
    • Conduct all of our students, faculty and staff testing on the same day.
    • Have two full days of remote learning on Tuesday (3/9) and Wednesday (3/10).
     
    As long as all testing is returned in a timely fashion and uploaded to Magnus no later than 4pm on Wednesday, March 10, we will then be able to confidently and safely return to in-person learning on Thursday, March 11.* 
     
    *As of now we have assurance from PM Pediatrics that the results will be returned within approximately 24 hours (as they have been doing consistently for the last few months) but if something goes wrong in the lab - or anything else unforeseen occurs - we reserve the right to remain remote on Thursday (and Friday, if need-be).
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 9. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Wednesday, March 10 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Thursday, March 11. Students will not be permitted to return to in-person learning without proper documentation uploaded to Magnus.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    Everyone must complete a PCR test. Rapid antigen and/or antibody tests are NOT acceptable.
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region.
     
    What do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth appointment followed by either visiting the Livingston location on March 8 in accordance with the schedule listed below or by scheduling an appointment during a different time between March 7-9 at one of their locations. Additional information can be found below. 
     
    If the PM Pediatrics testing window for GOA is on Monday morning, what does this mean for classes that week?
    Given the many challenges around securing a time for so many members of our community to be tested, we are grateful that the team at PM Pediatrics has been able to clear Monday morning hours (8:00am-12pm in Livingston) for us. As such, recognizing that over 75% of our community have consistently tested with PMP, there will be no classes happening on Monday in order to provide time for students, faculty and staff to be tested. 
     
    Unlike previous testing windows, we will have full days of remote instruction on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will then learn in-person (barring any unforeseen challenges) on Thursday and Friday.
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy
     
     
     
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    Should be scheduled to take place between 
    February 28-March 6
     
    Student Covid-19 Testing Times & Locations
    While testing can take place throughout the entire testing window, PM Pediatrics (Livingston) will be open just for GOA families on:
     
    Monday, March 8
    8:00am-12pm 
    at the Livingston location
     
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12pm-10pm in Livingston, 12pm-12am in Springfield, 12pm-10pm in North Brunswick or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
     
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: (973) 992-4767
     
    Virtual Telehealth Screening
     
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website,https://pmpediatrics.com/pmpanywhere. Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
     
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account (if you've already set one up previously you can use the same credentials). Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
     
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
     
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
     
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider.
     
    Following the telehealth visit, that’s it — there will be no need to schedule an appointment so long as you are planning to be tested on Tuesday, February 9 at PM Pediatrics Livingston. 
     
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
     
    For families testing on Monday, March 8 at PM Pediatrics, please arrive at their location at the following times based on the first initial of your last name:
     
    Last name A-F
    8:00 am-9:00 am 
     
    Last name G-L
    9:00 am-10:00 am
     
    Last name M-S
    10:00 am-11:00 am
     
    Last name T-Z
    11:00 am-11:50 am
     
    If you would like to request a different time to schedule (not during the designated testing on March 8 of 8-12 pm in Livingston) you may still use the scheduling link:https://pmpediatrics.com/covidbookvisit to set up a visit at any of the offices during the normal business hours.
     
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
     
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
     
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
     
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them. Once that documentation is received, it should be uploaded to the Magnus portal through the Golda Och Academy website. Additionally, anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
     
    **Please note that, per state reporting guidelines, 
    all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.**
     
    If you have specific questions for the PM Pediatrics team, you can call their Livingston office directly at (973) 992-4767.
  • February 14: February COVID Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Thank you all for once again fully complying with our mandatory COVID testing window this week. While there has been tremendous excitement and anticipation when it comes to vaccine administration, we are still nowhere close to out of the woods when it comes to this pandemic and it continues to be of paramount importance that we all remain vigilant in keeping ourselves — and our entire community — healthy and safe. 
     
    In keeping with our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID, I am writing to let you know that this round of testing did uncover a positive test for one of our Upper School faculty members. In accordance with our policies, and those of the Department of Health, a thorough contact tracing process was conducted and there are no additional teachers or students who are considered close contacts of this faculty member (as defined by the CDC). As such, there are no additional required quarantines/isolations that need to be put in place at this time. 
     
    This faculty member, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. They have also been in touch directly with Nurse Ilena who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols.
     
    While the majority of the state of NJ remains in the High Risk (orange) zone on the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix, we continue to follow all of the precautionary measures associated with this distinction. Should our county return to the Moderate Risk (yellow) zone, we will notify you and adjust our protocols accordingly. As a reminder, the high risk zone on the matrix requires that if a staff member or student is COVID+ or has exhibited COVID compatible symptoms (not yet confirmed by testing), our school is required to follow the COVID exclusion criteria and put either a specific grade-level or group of students into a precautionary quarantine. The decision as to whether to end the precautionary quarantine or shift it to a mandatory quarantine happens in accordance with CDC and Department of Health guidance and following medical evaluation and COVID-19 test results for the student/staff member who has exhibited symptoms. Please note that GOA continues to require a 14-day quarantine/isolation based on exposure and/or a positive COVID test.  
     
    In our effort to successfully continue operating in-person, it is imperative that students/faculty stay home if they have traveled and/or if they are not feeling well. Please also continue to pay close attention to the questions in our daily wellness screening (on SchoolPass) and be in touch with Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta if you have specific questions about factors that may exclude your child(ren) from in-person instruction. Please also remember that our faculty are prepared to have students join their classes remotely so long as they are notified before the start of the school day. 
     
    In order to keep our students learning in school please continue to:
    • Wear a mask
    • Remain physically distanced
    • Wash your hands
    • Avoid gathering with anyone outside of your immediate family
     
    Wishing everyone a happy Presidents’ Day and looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to school on Tuesday.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • February 3: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As per our policy to communicate about positive COVID cases within our student/faculty community, I am writing to inform you that a 9th grade student, who has been learning remotely since before winter break, has tested positive for COVID. Given that this student has been learning fully remotely and has no siblings in the school, there is no need for anyone else in our GOA community to quarantine/isolate.  
     
    As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student is from. If anyone had close contact with this student outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. This student, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. The family has also been in touch directly with Nurse Ilena who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • January 27: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In an effort to maintain our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID, I am writing to inform you that a 9th grade student tested positive for COVID this afternoon. While this student, who has no other sibling in the school, was not in school today, they were last in school on Monday. 
     
    With this confirmed positive test, our 9th grade students will begin a 14-day quarantine period today and the entire grade will shift to remote instruction tomorrow (Thursday, January 28). Recognizing that the student was last in school on Monday, the quarantine period will end for our 9th grade students on Monday, February 8. Out of an abundance of caution, we are putting the entire grade on a mandatory quarantine at this time because they would be considered “contacts” of the student who tested positive. Families should do their absolute best to keep those who are quarantining at home away from all other family members (and should consider masking at home as well). With this in mind, the siblings of our 9th grade students are all considered “contacts of contacts” and are not required to quarantine out of school at this time. 
     
    Please note that our entire school will be learning remotely (and going through COVID testing) during the week of the 8th. Like all other students, once our 9th graders receive their negative test results that week, they will be able to return for in-person instruction on Tuesday, February 16. 
     
    As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student is from. If anyone had close contact with this student outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. This student, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. The family has also been in touch directly with Nurse Ilena who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • January 26: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In accordance with our promise to notify our community of positive COVID results, we have just learned that we have two siblings in our school — a 1st grader and a 9th grader — who tested positive for COVID today. Recognizing that both of these students have been out of school since last Wednesday, these positive cases do not require any section or grade-level quarantining based on school contact. Both students, along with their family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. They have also been in touch directly with our school nurses who have helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    With the number of cases continuing to rise in our immediate area, and throughout the state, I want to take this opportunity to once again remind our GOA families to be safe and responsible when it comes to physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • January 19: February COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, our next round of mandatory COVID screenings will take place between Sunday, February 7 and Wednesday, February 10, for all of our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, they will be assisting us in making this easier for our families so that we can, once again, have 100% compliance with this requirement. We are so grateful to our families and staff for your continued cooperation and support of our ongoing health and safety policies.  
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, February 7 and Wednesday, February 10. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Sunday, February 14 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Tuesday, February 16 (Monday, February 15 is Presidents' Day and there will be no school). Students will not be permitted to return to campus without proper documentation received by the school.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    Everyone must complete a PCR test. Rapid antigen and/or antibody tests will NOT be accepted.
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region. 
     
    What do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Additional information can be found below. 
     
    If the PM Pediatrics testing window for GOA is on Tuesday morning, what does this mean for classes?
    Given the many challenges around securing a time for so many members of our community to be tested, we are grateful that the team at PM Pediatrics has been able to clear Tuesday morning hours (8:00am-12pm in Livingston) for us. As such, recognizing that over 75% of our community have consistently tested with PMP, there will be no remote instruction classes happening on Tuesday morning in order to provide everyone with ample time to schedule their appointments. We will only hold afternoon classes on Tuesday beginning at 12:15pm for our Lower School students and 1:00pm for our Upper School students.
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  
    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy
     
     
     
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    Should be scheduled to take place between 
    January 21-February 1
     
    Student Covid-19 Testing Times & Locations
    While testing can take place throughout the window, PM Pediatrics (Livingston) will be open just for GOA families on
     
    Tuesday, February 9
    8:00am-12pm 
    at the Livingston location
     
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12pm-10pm in Livingston, 12pm-12am in Springfield, 12pm-10pm in North Brunswick or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
     
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: (973) 992-4767
     
    Virtual Telehealth Screening
     
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website,https://pmpediatrics.com/pmpanywhere. Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
     
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account (if you've already set one up previously you can use the same credentials). Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
     
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
     
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
     
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider.
     
    Following the telehealth visit, that’s it — there will be no need to schedule an appointment so long as you are planning to be tested on Tuesday, February 9 at PM Pediatrics Livingston. 
     
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
     
    For families testing on Tuesday, February 9 at PM Pediatrics, please arrive at their location at the following times based on the first initial of your last name:
     
    Last name A-F
    8:00 am-9:00 am 
     
    Last name G-L
    9:00 am-10:00 am
     
    Last name M-S
    10:00 am-11:00 am
     
    Last name T-Z
    11:00 am-11:50 am
     
    If you would like to request a different time to schedule (not during the designated testing on February 9 of 8-12 pm in Livingston) you may still use the scheduling link:https://pmpediatrics.com/covidbookvisit to set up a visit at any of the offices during the normal business hours.
     
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
     
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
     
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
     
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them. Once that documentation is received, it should be uploaded to the Magnus portal through the Golda Och Academy website. Additionally, anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
     
    **Please note that, per state reporting guidelines, 
    all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.**
     
    If you have specific questions for the PM Pediatrics team, you can call their Livingston office directly at (973) 992-4767.
  • January 14: COVID Testing Schedule for February-May

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Thank you all again for your continued compliance with our COVID testing requirements. As we look ahead to the coming months, we want to provide our community with all of our upcoming testing dates so that you can prepare accordingly. We strongly believe that the model we have created, which includes a Sunday through Wednesday testing window while we learn remotely for the week, is one that has been successful. 
     
    As such, we plan to implement this model four more times (monthly) between now and the end of the school year. Please read the information below which includes testing dates and school calendar changes. Prior to each testing window, we will send out additional detailed information, including the telemedicine dates and appointment times for those who will be testing with PM Pediatrics. 
     
    Should you have any questions, please reach out to Nurse Ilena or Nurse Roberta.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
     
    COVID Testing/Calendar Changes
     
    February 2021 
     
    • Sunday, February 7 – Wednesday, February 10: COVID Testing (PCR) window
    • Monday, February 8: Professional Development Day for all Faculty/Staff - No Classes (please note that this was originally scheduled for Thursday, February 11)
    • Tuesday, February 9: PM Pediatrics Livingston will run special AM testing hours and Remote Instruction will begin at 12:15 pm for Lower School students and 1:00 pm for Upper School students
    • Wednesday, February 10 & Thursday, February 11: Remote Instruction
    • Friday, February 12: School Closed - Presidents’ Weekend
    • Sunday, February 14: Documentation of negative PCR test results must be uploaded to Magnus no later than 4:00 pm
    • Monday, February 15: School Closed - Presidents’ Weekend
    • Tuesday, February 16: On-campus learning resumes 
     
    March 2021* 
     
    • Sunday, March 7 – Wednesday, March 10: COVID Testing (PCR) window
    • Monday, March 8: Faculty/Staff Planning Day - No Classes
    • Tuesday, March 9: PM Pediatrics Livingston will run special AM testing hours and Remote Instruction will begin at 12:15 pm for Lower School students and 1:00 pm for Upper School students
    • Wednesday, March 10 – Friday, March 12: Remote Instruction
    • Sunday, March 14: Documentation of negative PCR test results must be uploaded to Magnus no later than 4:00 pm
    • Monday, March 15: On-campus learning resumes
     
    *Please note that our March COVID testing dates are subject to change.
     
    April 2021 (Post Pesach)
     
    • Sunday, April 4 – Wednesday, April 7: COVID (PCR) Testing window
    • Monday, April 5: Faculty/Staff Planning Day - No Classes
    • Tuesday, April 6: PM Pediatrics Livingston will run special AM testing hours and Remote Instruction will begin at 12:15 pm for Lower School students and 1:00 pm for Upper School students
    • Wednesday, April 7 – Friday, April 9: Remote Instruction
    • Sunday, April 11: Documentation of negative PCR test results must be uploaded to Magnus no later than 4:00 pm.
    • Monday, April 12: On-campus learning resumes
     
    May 2021* 
     
    • Sunday, May 2 – Wednesday, May 5: COVID (PCR) Testing window
    • Monday, May 3: Faculty/Staff Planning Day - No Classes
    • Tuesday, May 4: PM Pediatrics Livingston will run special AM testing hours and Remote Instruction will begin at 12:15 pm for Lower School students and 1:00 pm for Upper School students
    • Wednesday, May 5 – Friday, May 7: Remote Instruction
    • Sunday, May 9: Documentation of negative PCR test results must be uploaded to Magnus no later than 4:00 pm.
    • Monday, May 10: On-campus learning resumes
     
    *Please note that our May COVID testing dates are subject to change.
  • January 10: January COVID Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Happy New Year! Thank you all for once again fully complying with our mandatory COVID testing window this week. As we are all well aware, the number of COVID cases throughout our region (and country) have not decreased in any meaningful way. With this in mind, it continues to be of paramount importance that we all remain vigilant when it comes to keeping ourselves — and our entire community — healthy and safe. 
     
    With the entire state of NJ in the High Risk (orange) zone on the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix, the additional precautionary measures that we put in place just before the break are still in effect. As a reminder, the high risk zone on the matrix requires that if a staff member or student is COVID+ or has exhibited COVID compatible symptoms (not yet confirmed by testing), our school is required to follow the COVID exclusion criteria and put either a specific grade-level or group of students into a precautionary quarantine. The decision as to whether to end the precautionary quarantine or shift it to a mandatory quarantine happens in accordance with CDC and Department of Health guidance and following medical evaluation and COVID-19 test results for the student/staff member who has exhibited symptoms. Please note that GOA continues to require a 14-day quarantine/isolation based on exposure and/or a positive COVID test.  
     
    To that end, we thank those families in our community who let us know that they traveled out of the region over the break and returned after the December 27 cutoff that would have enabled them to come back to school for in-person instruction tomorrow. Because of the advance notice, we have already been able to speak with those families and inform their teachers that they’d be learning remotely in the coming days (until their 14-day period is completed). If you traveled outside of the CT, DE, NY, PA region over the break (returning after December 27) and have not yet been in touch with Nurse llena or Nurse Roberta, please reach out to them immediately in order to determine the appropriate return-to-school date for your child(ren). 
     
    In our effort to successfully continue operating in-person, it is imperative that students/faculty stay home if they are not feeling well. Our faculty are prepared to have students join their classes remotely so long as our team is notified before the start of the school day. 
     
    In order to keep our students learning in school please continue to:
     
    • Wear a mask
    • Remain physically distanced
    • Wash your hands
    • Avoid gathering with anyone outside of your immediate family
     
    We are in the process of confirming our plans/dates for the next COVID-19 testing window and will be in touch shortly with those details.
     
    Looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to school tomorrow.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • December 18: Winter Break Message

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    When we opened our doors on September 9 for in-person instruction there were more than a few people who doubted whether or not we could continue doing so for an extended period of time. As I sit here writing this Head of School message on December 18 — which also coincides beautifully with the 8th day of Hanukkah — there are many thoughts filling my mind. 
     
    I want to start by saying thank you to our entire community. Your continued support and dedication has been incredibly powerful. We have completed over three months of in-person education because we have all agreed to do our part to look out for one another. Without ongoing vigilance, this experiment would have most likely ended months ago.
     
    The light from the hanukiyot burning brightly in our home last night also reminded me of the tremendous light and joy that we have experienced every single day on Gregory Avenue and Pleasant Valley Way. Since this pandemic began nine months ago there has been so much darkness and devastation throughout our country and world yet we have been blessed to have our students and teachers providing so much to be hopeful for even in these uncertain times. The smiles and laughter that have filled our halls coupled with the meaningful learning happening in our classrooms has provided a much-needed spark for each and every one of us.
     
    As we look around the country and see so many schools and districts that have remained fully remote since March, it should serve as a reminder to all of us of just how fortunate we are to have our dedicated team of superhero teachers coming to work every day. We have asked them to go well above and beyond while stretching their comfort zones in innumerable ways. So as we head into winter break — an opportunity for all of us to rest, relax and recharge in preparation for the second half of the school year — I have one request for our GOA community. Please take a moment to say thank you to your teachers for all that they have done to provide a powerful sense of normalcy (in these anything but normal times) for our students.
     
    I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished over the past three months and look forward to continuing this work when we return to school in January.
     
    Shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
     
    An important reminder about communal responsibility, travel and quarantine policies
    With the COVID numbers in NJ continuing to rise at an alarmingly high rate, and our goal of maintaining in-person instruction following winter break, we strongly discourage any and all non-essential travel in the coming weeks. Additionally, any expansion of family pods presents a risk to the health of everyone in our community. Should travel be in your plans, please be sure to read the following information closely.
     
    While there have been some recent changes made by the CDC to the quarantine rules for those returning to NJ, Golda Och Academy has not made any adjustments to our current, school-specific policies. As such, anyone traveling outside of the CT/DE/NJ/NY/PA corridor over the break will still be required to complete a 14-day quarantine before returning to school. For those who are planning to travel, please be sure to return to NJ no later than Sunday, December 27, in order to ensure that your 14-day quarantine will be completed in time for a return to campus on Monday, January 11.
     
    Since coming back to school in September, we are so proud of all we've been able to achieve! Watch the video for more!
  • December 15: Calendar Changes Due To Snowstorm

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    With the forecast of a major nor’easter snow storm making it’s way towards NJ tomorrow, we have decided to make the following changes to our school schedule:
     
    Wednesday, December 16, 2020
    School will operate in-person (and remotely) until 12 noon. Parents/caregivers should plan to pick up their students at that time. There will be no lunch/recess due to the abridged day and there will be no afternoon classes. Students should still bring a morning snack with them to school.
     
    Thursday and Friday, December 17 & 18, 2020
    While our campuses will be physically closed, we will operate on a full remote instruction schedule for grades Pre-K through 12th grade. Classroom teachers will post additional information on Seesaw and Google Classroom. Should there be widespread power outages, we reserve the right to adjust all schedules accordingly and will alert our community via text/email alerts.*
     
    *Please note that we’ve made the decision to shift to remote instruction due to a number of factors. With the benefit of advance notice, our teachers and students have the opportunity to be fully prepared and with break just a few days away we wanted to ensure that instruction continued through the rest of the week. As we look to the future, there will still be times when we will choose to call a snow day (no remote instruction) based on the timing and severity of any potential storm. 
     
    Communal responsibility, travel and quarantine policies
    With the COVID numbers in NJ continuing to rise at an alarmingly high rate, and our goal of maintaining in-person instruction following winter break, we strongly discourage any and all non-essential travel in the coming weeks. Additionally, any expansion of family pods presents a risk to the health of everyone in our community. Should travel be in your plans, please be sure to read the following information closely.
     
    While there have been some recent changes made by the CDC to the quarantine rules for those returning to NJ, Golda Och Academy has not made any adjustments to our current, school-specific policies. As such, anyone traveling outside of the CT/DE/NJ/NY/PA corridor over the break will still be required to complete a 14-day quarantine before returning to school. For those who are planning to travel, please be sure to return to NJ no later than Sunday, December 27, in order to ensure that your 14-day quarantine will be completed in time for a return to campus on Monday, January 11.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • December 14: December/January COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, we will be requiring mandatory COVID screenings between Sunday, January 3 and Wednesday, January 6, for all of our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, they will be assisting us in making this easier for our families so that we can, once again, have 100% compliance with this requirement. We are so grateful to our families and staff for your continued cooperation and support of our ongoing health and safety policies.  
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, January 3 and Wednesday, January 6. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Sunday, January 10 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Monday, January 11, 2021. Students will not be permitted to return to campus without proper documentation received by the school.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    Everyone must complete a PCR test. Rapid antigen and/or antibody tests will NOT be accepted.
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region. 
     
    What do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Additional information can be found below. 
     
    If the PM Pediatrics testing window for GOA is on Tuesday morning, what does this mean for classes?
    Given the many challenges around securing a time for so many members of our community to be tested, we are grateful that the team at PM Pediatrics has been able to clear Tuesday morning hours (8:00am-12pm in Livingston) for us. As such, recognizing that over 75% of our community have consistently tested with PMP, there will be no remote instruction classes happening on Tuesday morning in order to provide everyone with ample time to schedule their appointments. We will only hold afternoon classes on Tuesday. More information will be forthcoming from both Mr. Herskowitz and Mrs. Siegel.
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  
    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy
     
     
     
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    Should be scheduled to take place between 
    December 17-28, 2020
     
    Student Covid-19 Testing Times & Locations
    While testing can take place throughout the window, PM Pediatrics (Livingston) will be open just for GOA families on
     
    Tuesday, January 5
    8:00am-12pm 
    at the Livingston location
     
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12pm-10pm in Livingston, 12pm-12am in Springfield, 12pm-10pm in North Brunswick or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
     
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: (973) 992-4767
     
    2421 US Route 1
    North Brunswick, NJ 08902
    Phone: (732) 297-6767
     
    355 Route 22 East
    Springfield, NJ 07081
    Phone: (973) 467-2767
     
    Virtual Telehealth Screening
     
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website,https://pmpediatrics.com/pmpanywhere. Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
     
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account (if you've already set one up previously you can use the same credentials). Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
     
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
     
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
     
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider.
     
    Following the telehealth visit, that’s it — there will be no need to schedule an appointment so long as you are planning to be tested on Tuesday, January 5 at PM Pediatrics Livingston. 
     
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
     
    For families testing on Tuesday, January 5 at PM Pediatrics, please arrive at their location at the following times based on the first initial of your last name:
     
    Last name A-F
    8:00 am-9:00 am 
     
    Last name G-L
    9:00 am-10:00 am
     
    Last name M-S
    10:00 am-11:00 am
     
    Last name T-Z
    11:00 am-11:50 am
     
    If you would like to request a different time to schedule (not during the designated testing on January 5 of 8-12 pm in Livingston) you may still use the scheduling link:https://pmpediatrics.com/covidbookvisit to set up a visit at any of the offices during the normal business hours.
     
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
     
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
     
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
     
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them. Once that documentation is received, it should be uploaded to the Magnus portal through the Golda Och Academy website. Additionally, anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
     
    **Please note that, per state reporting guidelines, 
    all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.**
     
    If you have specific questions for the PM Pediatrics team, you can also call their Livingston office directly at (973) 992-4767.
  • December 10: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In an effort to maintain our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID-19, I am writing to inform you that a 6th grade student tested positive for COVID this afternoon. While this student, and their sibling who is in the same section, were not in school today, they have been in school this week. Earlier this morning, after learning that the student was experiencing COVID-like symptoms, we put an immediate precautionary quarantine in place and sent the entire section of 6th grade (6C) students home. The classrooms and facilities used by any of those students today were immediately closed as well and have all been cleaned and sanitized thoroughly. We are grateful to our teachers and staff for jumping into action and organizing the students and to our parents who moved quickly to pick them up from school.
     
    Now that we have a confirmed positive test, the students in 6C will be moved from a precautionary quarantine to a full 14-day quarantine beginning today. As such, they will be learning remotely until winter break. As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student is from. If anyone had close contact with this student outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. 
     
    This student, along with their immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. The family has also been in touch directly with our school nurse who has helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    If you have any additional health-related questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Ilena/Nurse Roberta and/or your family physician.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • December 6: November/December COVID Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Thank you all for once again complying with our mandatory COVID testing window this past week. As we are all well aware, the number of COVID cases throughout our region (and country) are rising at an alarmingly high rate. With this in mind, it continues to be of paramount importance that we all remain vigilant when it comes to keeping ourselves — and our entire community — healthy and safe. 
     
    In accordance with our promise to notify our community of positive COVID results, we have learned this weekend that we have two students — a 12th grader and a 6th grader — who are currently COVID+. Recognizing that we have been out of school since November 24, these positive cases do not require any grade-level quarantining based on school-contact. Both students, along with each of their respective immediate family members, are quarantining in accordance with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. They have also been in touch directly with our school nurses who have helped them to understand the “return to school” protocols to be followed once their quarantine is complete.
     
    With our region of NJ now in the High Risk (orange) zone on the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix, we are required to take additional precautionary measures when it comes to keeping our entire community safe. The high risk zone on the matrix requires that if a staff member or student is COVID+ or has exhibited COVID compatible symptoms (not yet confirmed by testing), our school is required to follow the COVID exclusion criteria and put either a specific grade-level or group of students into a precautionary quarantine. The decision as to whether to end the precautionary quarantine or shift it to a mandatory quarantine happens in accordance with CDC and Department of Health guidance and following medical evaluation and COVID-19 test results for the student/staff member who has exhibited symptoms. Additionally, while we are aware that the CDC is working on new guidelines as it relates to the length of mandatory quarantines, we are working with our internal medical team to determine the best next steps for our institution. At this time, we are not making a change to our school policies and we will continue to keep our community informed should we choose to do so.  
     
    Recognizing that we are in the High Risk zone on the matrix, what are we asking of our families?
     
    In our effort to successfully continue operating in-person, it is imperative that students/faculty stay home if they are not feeling well. Our faculty are prepared to have students join their classes remotely so long as our team is notified before the start of the school day. (Please note: Upper School families should review the updated Attendance Policy guidelines that Mr. Herskowitz sent on Friday.)
     
    With Hanukkah beginning this week, we understand that it is once again going to be a time when families will need to make the difficult decision to not gather and celebrate with their extended family members and friends. We thank you all in advance for your cooperation on this request.
     
    In order to keep our students learning in school please continue to:
    • Wear a mask
    • Remain physically distanced
    • Wash your hands
    • Avoid gathering with anyone outside of your immediate family
     
    Looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to school tomorrow.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • November 30: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In an effort to maintain our transparent approach to notifying our community about students and/or faculty testing positive for COVID-19, I am writing to inform you that two 12th grade students tested positive for COVID over this past weekend. One of the 12th grade students has a younger sibling in the school who tested negative (and will still quarantine as a close family contact) and the other student does not have any siblings currently in our school. Given that we have been out of school for more than the requisite number of days prior to them testing positive, the Department of Health does not require a quarantine for our 12th graders based on school-contact. As is the case when anyone tests positive for COVID, the contact-tracing is handled by the local department of health in the town where the student(s) are from. If anyone had contact with these students outside of school they will be notified accordingly about quarantine protocol. I know that our entire community joins with me in sending our absolute best to these two students and their families.
     
    Some important reminders for everyone in our community to keep in mind:
     
    • Recognizing that our entire community will be COVID-testing this week (11/29-12/2) it’s imperative that Nurse Ilena and/or Nurse Roberta be notified immediately should anyone receive a positive COVID test result. They will provide answers to questions families may have and will provide counsel on all the steps that need to be completed as part of our “return to school” protocols. 
     
    • While grade/group quarantining will not be required based on school-contact this week, we will continue to do our part when it comes to notifying about positive test results. 
     
    • Once test results are received, families should upload them immediately to Magnus (and no later than 4pm on Sunday, December 6) as our team will be monitoring that throughout the week
     
    • No one will be permitted back in school on Monday, December 7 without first uploading proper documentation about a negative COVID test result.
     
    As we find ourselves in the throes of this 2nd wave of the pandemic it’s imperative that all members of our community remember to stay vigilant, wear masks, maintain physical distancing and properly wash hands. We are stronger when we work together and support one another and never has that message been more important than this moment in time. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • November 23: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    We have just been notified this evening about a positive COVID-19 case in the 11th grade. Most importantly, we want to send our absolute best to the student who has tested positive. Fortunately, the protocols we have in place that encourage families to keep their children home from school if/when they are not feeling well has worked in this case as the student who tested positive (from a test taken today) was not in school today. Based on CDC and state requirements, when a person tests positive the contact tracing process looks at the last 48 hours of interactions that the person may have had. In this case, it means that a quarantine for the entire grade or group of students is not required at this time. Should additional information be brought to our attention, we will update our community accordingly. The Department of Health in the town where this student lives will conduct a full contact tracing process and if it turns out that any additional students are considered close contacts we will then assess the situation further. We have also asked the family to begin this process in earnest and notify anyone that they may have been with over the weekend. 
     
    In partnership,
    Mr. Shapiro  
  • November 19: Remote Instruction plans for November 30 - December 4

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As we look ahead to the days following our Thanksgiving break, we want to provide information about our Remote Instruction plans for November 30 - December 4. Please review this email carefully and reach out with any questions you may have.
     
    Remote Instruction Schedule
    • Monday, November 30, 2020 — Faculty/Staff Planning Day - No classes
    • Tuesday, December 1, 2020 — Morning COVID Testing (for those testing at PM Pediatrics) followed by remote instruction beginning in the afternoon (see campus-specific schedules)
    • Wednesday, December 2 - Friday, December 4, 2020 — Remote instruction (see campus-specific schedules)
     
    Schedule Changes/Adjustments
    The remote week follows our live, daily schedule with slightly shorter periods and/or minor adjustments. In these schedules you will notice the following:
     
    • Tuesday, December 1: Lower School classes begin at 12:15pm; Upper School classes begin at 1pm. Recognizing that COVID testing at PM Pediatrics (during our GOA-specific window) will take place on Tuesday morning, we will only be running afternoon classes on 12/1. Note: Lower School teachers will be flexible about admitting students from the waiting room should testing appointments run slightly longer.   
    • Friday will be a more condensed schedule for all students.
     
    Lower School students:
    • Will start their day with Morning Meeting on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
    • Will be provided with an optional Homework Help session for grades 1-5 from 2:30-3:15pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 
    • Conclude all classes by 1:30pm on Friday.
     
    Upper School students:
    • Middle school students will end their day at 2:45 pm on Wednesday and Thursday. 
    • Office Hours will take place during their regularly scheduled times on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be no Office Hours on Tuesday or Friday. If students have specific questions, they should reach out to their teachers directly. 
    • Most Middle and High School Clubs that meet on Wednesdays and Thursdays will meet virtually. The Zoom links for the clubs are located on the Remote Instruction Schedule.
     
    Remote Instruction Expectations
    In an effort to ensure that all students are set-up for a successful week of remote instruction, we’d like to ask everyone to please review the following documents on our 
    Remote Instruction Expectations:
     
     
    Important Schedule Links/Information
    Please follow these links/information to view the remote instruction schedules:
    • Lower School — Please click here to view a master overview of class start times, break times, lunch/recess times and end of school day times for grades 1-5. Early childhood and grade specific schedules will be posted on Seesaw and Google Classroom for your reference by Monday, November 30.   
    • Middle School — Remote Instruction Schedule with Zoom Classroom Links 
    • High School — Remote Instruction Schedule with Zoom Classroom Links 
     
    (Please note that Student and Parent Expectations documents, as well as the remote schedules, can also be found on the Lower and Upper School Resource Boards on the website.)
     
    Feedback on Parent/Teacher Conferences
    Please take a moment to complete this survey about your conferences experience. As is true with any school program, it's important to receive feedback from those who participated so that we may continue to make our Parent/Teacher Conferences as meaningful as possible.
     
    COVID-19 Testing
    Please note that all students, faculty and staff must receive a negative COVID test during our upcoming testing window of November 29-December 2. For more information, please click here.
     
    Don’t Forget: NJ State Quarantine Travel Advisory
    With the number of COVID cases continuing to rise at a rapid rate in NJ, we want to remind all of our families to take every precaution possible when it comes to the upcoming breaks. For more information about quarantine restrictions, please click here
     
    Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving,
     
    Carrie Zucker Siegel
    Lower School Principal
     
    Karen Spector
    Assistant Lower School Principal
     
    Jordan Herskowitz
    Interim Upper School Principal 
     
    Jamie Himmelstein
    Middle School Director
  • November 17: November/December 2020 COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, we will be requiring mandatory COVID screenings between Sunday, November 29 and Wednesday, December 2, for all of our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, they will be assisting us in making this easier for our families so that we can, once again, have 100% compliance with this requirement. We are so grateful to our families and staff for your continued cooperation and support of our ongoing health and safety policies.  
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between Sunday, November 29 and Wednesday, December 2. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal no later than 4 pm on Sunday, December 6 in advance of returning for in-person instruction on Monday, December 7, 2020. Students will not be permitted to return to campus without proper documentation received by the school.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    For this round of testing (and moving forward) everyone must complete a PCR test. Rapid antigen and/or antibody tests will NOT be accepted. 
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region. 
     
    What do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Additional information can be found below. 
     
    If the PM Pediatrics testing window for GOA is on Tuesday morning, what does this mean for classes?
    Given the many challenges around securing a time for so many members of our community to be tested, we are grateful that the team at PM Pediatrics has been able to clear Tuesday morning hours (8:30am-12pm in Livingston) for us. As such, recognizing that over 75% of our community tested with PMP in the last round of testing, there will be no remote instruction classes happening on Tuesday morning in order to provide everyone with ample time to schedule their appointments. We will only hold afternoon classes on Tuesday. More information will be forthcoming from both Mr. Herskowitz and Mrs. Siegel. 
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  
    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy
     
     
     
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    Should be scheduled to take place between 
    November 18-28, 2020
     
    Student Covid-19 Testing Times & Locations
    While testing can take place throughout the window, PM Pediatrics (Livingston) will be open just for GOA families on
     
    Tuesday, December 1
    8:30am-12pm 
    at the Livingston location
     
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12pm-10pm in Livingston, 12pm-12am in Springfield, 12pm-10pm in North Brunswick or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
     
    PM Pediatrics of Livingston
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: (973) 992-4767
     
    PM Pediatrics of North Brunswick
    2421 US Route 1
    North Brunswick, NJ 08902
    Phone: (732) 297-6767
     
    PM Pediatrics of Springfield
    355 Route 22 East
    Springfield, NJ 07081
    Phone: (973) 467-2767
     
    Virtual Telehealth Screening
     
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website,https://pmpediatrics.com/pmpanywhere. Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
     
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account (if you've already set one up previously you can use the same credentials). Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
     
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
     
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
     
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider. 
     
    PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING CHANGE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TESTED WITH PM PEDIATRICS IN THE PAST: During the virtual visit, families must identify themselves as being part of our GOA community. The PM Pediatrics doctor will then provide a self-scheduling link (this is only applicable for the Livingston office as the other locations are still using the call-back service) at the time of the appointment for ease and convenience. With this new process in place, there will be no need to wait for a scheduling assistant to call from PM Pediatrics. This link will enable you to schedule a time both during our dedicated appointment hours (8:30am-12pm on 12/1 in the Livingston office) or at any other time in the 11/29-12/2 testing window. If you have specific questions for the PM Pediatrics team, you can also call their Livingston office directly. 
     
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
     
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
     
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
     
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
     
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them. Once that documentation is received, it should be uploaded to the Magnus portal through the Golda Och Academy website. Additionally, anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
     
    **Please note that, per state reporting guidelines, 
    all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.**
  • November 5: Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Next Rounds of COVID Testing

    Please note the following information about our school calendar for just after Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break and the next rounds of COVID testing.
     
    Don’t Forget: NJ State Quarantine Travel Advisory
     
    With the number of COVID cases continuing to rise at a rapid rate in NJ, we want to remind all of our families to take every precaution possible when it comes to the upcoming breaks. We recognize that some of you will take this opportunity to travel and want to remind you about the NJ State Quarantine Travel Advisory (below). Please note that no faculty, staff or students will be permitted in school for in-person instruction while on a 14-day quarantine. 
     
    Travel Advisory: To save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19, NJ State has issued an incoming travel advisory that all individuals entering New Jersey from states with a significant spread of COVID-19 should quarantine for 14-days after leaving that state. There are currently 43 states on this list. To see the full list, and for more information, click here
     
    Under the 14-day quarantine travel advisory announced by the Governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, individuals traveling to or returning to New Jersey from states with increasing rates of COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes travel by train, bus, car, plane and any other method of transportation.
  • November 1: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    I am writing to inform you that a member of our non-teaching staff tested positive for COVID-19 today after first experiencing symptoms late last night. Thankfully, this person is only experiencing mild symptoms at this time and I know that our community joins with me in wishing them a refuah shleimah – a full and speedy recovery. This staff member does not work with students directly and has had no close contacts with any students or faculty over the last week. We have already conducted a full internal contact-tracing review and have been in touch with the limited number of people that needed to be notified. 
     
    Should anything change, and/or if additional information comes to light, we will be back in touch.
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • October 23: Following up on our Community Update

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    I wanted to take this opportunity to follow up from last night’s email. Moving our 7th grade students to remote today provided us with the time to learn more about yesterday’s event and based on what we have learned, we are looking forward to welcoming the 7th grade back for on-campus instruction on Monday. Should anything change between now and Monday, we will be back in touch.
     
    B'nai mitzvah celebrations are central to the work we do here in school and we take tremendous pride in the accomplishments of our students when they lead services, read Torah and complete their mitzvah projects. As partners with our parents, we share in the nachas (pride) that comes from these milestone moments. At the same time, we also acknowledge the tremendous loss that this pandemic has caused when it comes to changing and altering plans for gatherings and celebrations.
     
    On a personal note, as a parent and Jewish educator, this has all been quite difficult for me as well. As human beings and members of the Jewish community, it is our inclination to want to be together and connect with one another — especially for simcha celebrations. I want nothing more than to do everything in my power to support and celebrate all of our incredibly talented students at the special moments in their lives. These past eight months, however, have made all of this increasingly challenging. Please know that my dedication — and that of all of my colleagues — to our community has never wavered. 
     
    The health, safety and wellbeing of our community is of paramount importance and we will continue to make decisions with this in mind. 
     
    To that end, like many of you, we have kept a close eye on the rising number of COVID cases (along with transmission and positivity rates) in our state and find ourselves increasingly concerned by the statistics we are seeing. What we have requested from our community is that we all continue to commit ourselves to doing our part so that we can keep our campuses open. Unfortunately, the ongoing fluidity of this pandemic makes it impossible to create a one-size-fits-all statement regarding gatherings. The safest way for us to proceed — given the current realities of this moment — is to stay masked and physically distanced while interacting with others outside of our immediate families.   
     
    Wishing our entire GOA community continued good health. 
     
    Shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • October 22: 7th Grade on Remote and Important Community Update

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    It’s come to our attention that an event held earlier this evening may not have been in full compliance with the protocols and expectations we have put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire GOA community. 
     
    Out of an abundance of caution, and until we are able to gather more information, our entire 7th grade class — and any other student who attended this event — will be learning remotely tomorrow, Friday, October 23. All 7th grade teachers will be prepared to teach remotely tomorrow. If your child attended this event and is not in the 7th grade, please notify Mr. Herskowitz and Ms. Himmelstein so that they can confirm that your child(ren) will be able to access their classes remotely.
     
    We expect to learn more tomorrow and will be in touch by early afternoon should there need to be additional adjustments for next week. 
     
    As we have said repeatedly, it is of paramount importance that we all continue to do our part so that we can keep our campuses open and our students and faculty healthy and safe. 
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • October 21: Message about Open School Night

    Dear Golda Och Academy Parents,
     
    As we have said so many times since late summer, this continues to be a year unlike any other. So much of our focus has been on the safe and healthy re-opening of both our Upper and Lower school campuses. We are proud of the protocols and policies that have been put in place and reflect new routines for arrival, lunch, recess and dismissal among other key times of day. While it may seem like we have little time to focus on anything else, please rest assured, our educational leadership team has been very hard at work planning for an exceptional academic, social and emotional program that is a hallmark of our school  
     
    As such, and in advance of tomorrow night’s Open School Night, we wanted to share some of what has been happening here in school beyond health and safety measures like purell dispensers, thermometers and hydrostatic cleaners! We hope you find this information helpful in framing the year ahead and offering further context to the details that you will hear from teachers on Thursday night.
     
    Professional Development
    Professional development has long been a focus for GOA. Committed to whole school, campus-specific and individual professional development, we are incredibly proud of the work our teachers did during the summer and the work they continue to engage in during the school year. Increasing proficiency with technology, focusing on more robust and creative assessment and embracing a broad range of social-emotional strategies for use across grade levels have been just a few of the key areas to which our faculty has dedicated its efforts and attention. Classroom pedagogy and instruction will continue to reflect not only best practices in education, but the field of best practices that is emerging from these unique times.
     
    Assessment and Data Collection
    Assessment and data collection is essential to the start of every school year. Knowing where all of our students are in their skills across subjects allows teachers to set the pacing for instruction, while also addressing deficits or gaps that have emerged during time spent away from school. “Summer slide” is not new to educators; identifying and highlighting foundational skills that are weak or not fully mastered in the preceding year is critical to furthering these skills in a new school year. Our teachers have spent the last month not only collecting important data in math, reading, writing, Hebrew language etc., but also recalibrating their instruction to meet students where they are. Moving students’ skills forward and pursuing proficiency are our primary objectives as we look at the first marking periods of the year and beyond. While our teams across campuses are always committed to these processes, we know that this year the data is even more important.
     
    Physical and Social-Emotional Health
    With our increased emphasis on physical health, we understand and appreciate that mental health is equally important and we seek to support our students from Pre-K through 12th grade in our program in a range of ways. Acclimating to school routines, building relationships with new adults, and nurturing healthy friendships with classmates are all of highest priority. Our Guidance Counselors on both campuses are working with students by grade/section, in small groups and individually, to support them as we emphasize self care and healthy living. This is by no means a quick or simple process. Attending to the mental health of our students is an ongoing endeavor and one that requires all of our energy and attention. As parents, and as our partners in serving your children, we encourage you to share observations that you are seeing at home so that our team can work even more meaningfully with our students.
     
    Thank you for continuing to entrust your children to our care. While we all appreciate the uniqueness of the 2020-2021 school year, we know that it will be filled with growth and achievement for all of our students thanks to our incredible faculty and staff who are dedicated to their success.   
     
    We look forward to welcoming our entire community to our virtual Open School Night program tomorrow at 7:00 pm. Please use the Zoom link below to join. Following the program, which we anticipate to be no longer than 30 minutes, you will receive a complete listing of links that will enable you to (virtually) enter the classrooms in which our students learn every day. These pre-recorded videos will be available for you to view that evening or at your leisure at a later time. As always, should you have questions, please reach out to your child(ren)’s teachers directly for more information. 
     
     
     
    In partnership,
     
    Carrie Z. Siegel
    Principal, Lower School 
     
    Jordan Herskowitz
    Interim Principal, Upper School
     
    Jamie Himmelstein
    Middle School Director, Upper School
     
    Karen Spector
    Assistant Principal, Lower School
  • October 20: COVID Testing Update

    Thank you to our entire GOA community for 100% compliance during our latest round of COVID-19 testing. It is your continued vigilance — especially as it pertains to physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing — that enables our campuses to remain open. 
     
    Your ongoing commitment and support for our school and community is appreciated as we work every day to keep everyone healthy and safe.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • October 15: Upcoming Events, Calendar Adjustments & Reminders

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    With the chagim now behind us, we look ahead to the coming weeks and months with great excitement and anticipation. We are grateful to our faculty and students who continue to arrive on campus, and via Zoom, every day with smiles on their faces ready for another day of meaningful and impactful learning. We want nothing more than to continue to provide this important in-person instruction for our students.  
     
    Unfortunately, we are troubled by the rising positive case count in our surrounding towns and neighborhoods and are monitoring the situation in New Jersey closely. While I know that we all wish that we could simply be done with this pandemic, we do not have the ability to wish it away and thus we must all continue to do our part to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. Additionally, with the cold-weather months approaching, it is even more critical that our community remain vigilant when it comes to mask wearing, physical distancing, handwashing and limiting interactions beyond immediate family members.
     
    As we continue to face the challenges that this pandemic has presented, we remain acutely aware of the physical and social-emotional health and wellbeing of both our faculty and students. Toward that end, we are pleased to share more information about upcoming mandatory COVID-19 screening dates as well as calendar and program adjustments that reflect our commitment to ongoing professional development, faculty planning time and support. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
     
    Upcoming Events
     
    Open School Night — Thursday, October 22
    We look forward to having our entire GOA community (Pre-K through 12th) together from 7:00-7:30pm via Zoom. We will kick-off the evening with a community update along with remarks from Mrs. Siegel and Mr. Herskowitz. Our faculty is already hard at work creating class/grade-specific videos that all parents will have access to beginning at 7:30pm. 
     
    Virtual Community Havdalah Celebration — 
    Saturday, October 24 at 7:00pm
    All members of our GOA Community are invited to attend — students, parents, faculty, grandparents, alumni and alumni parents! This havdalah program, presented by our Jewish Life and Experiential Education team, will be led by two of our incredibly talented alumni: Mira Davis ‘14 and Josh Sauer '09.
     
    Parent-Teacher Conferences — November 4, 5, 6
    In an effort to ensure that we have the necessary time to successfully facilitate conferences, we have expanded our conference days as follows: 
     
    • Wednesday, November 4 (1-4pm)
    • Thursday, November 5 (8:20am-8:00pm)
    • Friday, November 6 (8:20am-2:00pm)
     
    All conferences will be conducted via Zoom and more information will be forthcoming with instructions on how to sign up for conferences online.
     
    Important Calendar Adjustments & Reminders
     
    Planning for Snow Days and Inclement Weather
    As we head into the winter months, we continue to plan for in-person instruction. Should snow force us to close our campuses, we will make the decision to either cancel classes or learn remotely based on the timing/severity of the forecasted weather. We appreciate your patience and understanding in recognizing that in order for us to successfully shift to a remote learning environment we must have confidence that technology and other connectivity issues will not negatively impact student learning. 
  • October 2: Community Update

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Sukkot has always been my favorite holiday. As my own children have gotten older the joy of building the sukkah every year has only increased as it’s no longer a one-person job! From start to finish — the building and decorating process to the many family meals, conversations and laughs during the week — there are truly no downsides (except for maybe rain). While all of our celebrations this year have been quite different, and Sukkot will be no exception, I am still looking forward to taking advantage of the family time and creating new memories. As opposed to past years, when our tradition has included an overflowing Sukkah filled with neighbors and friends, this year’s memories will only include our immediate family in order to ensure our continued health and safety. I urge everyone in our GOA community to join me in doing the same.   
     
    As the calendar has now turned to October and our first month of school is in the books, I wanted to take a few minutes to provide our community with some updates and important information as we look ahead to the coming weeks. While these first weeks have not been without their challenges and some changes and adjustments along the way, our community’s commitment to doing everything we can to keep our students healthy, safe and in school has been incredible to see. I want to take a moment to say thank you to our entire faculty for their continued dedication to our students and the energy and creativity they are putting into their work — every single day. 
     
    Please be sure to read all the way to the bottom and, as always, do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions.
     
    Upcoming COVID-19 Community Testing
    A reminder that all students, teachers and staff must complete a COVID test during the upcoming testing window of October 9-16, 2020. For those who will be testing at PM Pediatrics, please note the instructions that were sent in the most recent blast from our school. As I have stated in prior communications, we intend to continue with regular community testing throughout the year in an effort to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our community safe and healthy. When it comes to deciding which test will be administered, we must first ensure that the proper stock of tests are available for the sheer number of people (approximately 650) in our community that need to be tested. After consulting with the Medical Director at PM Pediatrics over the last few weeks, I am pleased to let you know that all tests being conducted by them will be PCR tests (not the rapid antigen tests) that are tested in a lab. As a result, some tests may take up to 72 hours until they are returned (based on the current times in the labs) so we ask that you be cognizant of that when testing as no one will be permitted back to school on Monday, October 19 without proof of a negative test. This documentation must be uploaded by parents directly to our school’s Magnus portal. PM Pediatrics will not be sending the results directly to the school during this round of testing. 
     
    New Protocols Around COVID-19 Reporting
    The news of our first positive cases of COVID-19 this past week gave all of us pause and was certainly anxiety-provoking — both for those who were directly impacted and our entire community. What I can say with confidence is that our many policies and procedures worked. Our team was able to recognize the need for testing, utilize our partnership with PM Pediatrics to ensure that it happened in a timely manner and our desire to communicate openly and regularly did not waver - even with the added difficulty of all of this happening around Shabbat and Yom Kippur. We also understand that the different elements that may have made perfect sense when originally outlined over the summer, benefit from further review and tweaking after being enacted.
     
    So what will we do differently moving forward? In the future, should we find ourselves in a situation where a family has multiple siblings in the school and one sibling tests positive while the other tests negative (with follow-up tests/assessments pending), we reserve the right to institute both mandatory quarantines as well as precautionary quarantines that can be put in place until all testing and assessments are complete. Once those processes are complete, it will then give us the opportunity to either end the precautionary quarantine and return those students to school, or convert it to a mandatory quarantine that requires a section or group of students to remain out of school for 14 days. 
     
    As noted in my last Head of School Message, the timing of a positive diagnosis has a huge impact on how quickly we can pivot to remote instruction on any given grade level or division within our school. While the technology is in place to transition seamlessly, as demonstrated by both our Gan and 3rd grade teams last week, our faculty also requires enough notice to adjust their materials/lesson plans in order to be successful with their instruction. 
     
    As such, if our team receives information regarding a positive diagnosis during the school day, we expect to be prepared to begin remote instruction the following school day at our usual time. Should information of a positive diagnosis be received after the school day, our communication to faculty, parents and students will go out as soon as possible and remote instruction will begin at noon on the following day. Here too, recognizing the uniqueness of every situation, we reserve the right to adjust these plans — including the closure of one or both campuses for extended/deep cleaning procedures. 
     
    Upcoming Events 
    While it may feel like the majority of our conversations have been focused on COVID-19, we have not lost sight of the importance of being together (even if virtually) as a community. We are looking forward to our Open School Night on Thursday, October 22at 7:00 pm where everyone will have the opportunity to come together for a community update and hear from Mrs. Siegel and Mr. Herskowitz about the exciting plans for students on both campuses this year. Following that brief presentation, our families will then receive information on how to access the informational videos being prepared by our faculty about the work our students have been (and will be) doing in the classroom this year. 
     
    We are also looking forward to our first Community Havdalah Celebration of the year. It is these beautiful moments that go a long way towards reminding all of us about the importance of being together. I am grateful to our dedicated Parents’ Association for their desire to partner with us on this project in an effort to make it even more meaningful. Our team is currently finalizing the details and will be sharing more — including the date and timing — in the coming days.
     
    Wishing our entire GOA community continued good health and strength. 
     
    Shabbat shalom and chag sukkot sameach,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 29: Update to Upper School Attendance Policy

    Dear Upper School Families,
     
    As we settle into the school year, we are updating our attendance policy for both in-person and remote students. To keep all students and faculty safe and healthy, we are implementing this updated policy immediately. We hope you understand that there are many moving parts for a student to learn remotely, and we want to make sure our communication within the building and home is clear and allows our teachers to have proper time to prepare for a productive remote lesson. 
     
    Recognizing many of our families have students in both our Lower and Upper School, we have been working alongside Mrs. Siegel, Mrs. Spector, and Nurse Roberta as we have updated this policy. We recognize our divisions operate a bit differently, and the Lower School will be in touch soon with updates to their attendance policy.
     
    Should you have any questions, please be in touch with us. 
     
    Thank you,
     
    Interim Upper School Principal 
     
    Middle School Director 
     
    Upper School Nurse 
     
    Upper School Attendance Policy 
    Revised September 29, 2020
     
    In an effort to set consistent guidelines for students who are absent, the following policies will apply:
     
    All absences for both in-person and remote learners need to be reported to the Nurse Ilena Kasdan by phone or email. 
     
    Should there be a positive Covid-19 case in school that requires or recommends students to quarantine, this policy does not apply.
     
    Students who are learning in-person:
     
    • An in-person learner who needs to arrive late or leave early during the school day for a medical appointment or any other reason will miss those class periods and be responsible for making up missed work/assignments. Students will not be able to attend these missed classes via Zoom.
     
    • For any anticipated absence of a full school day or longer, parents must contact the nurse at least one school day in advance. The nurse will work alongside the student’s guidance counselor/learning specialist and the administration to make a plan for the student’s remote access to classes. 
     
    • Requests to be remote must be made no later than 12:00 pm the day prior. For example, a request sent by 12:00 pm noon on a Tuesday will permit access for a student to attend classes remotely on that Wednesday. This time frame includes Fridays or the day before a holiday. 
     
    • Once a remote plan has been made, the student’s guidance counselor/learning specialist will communicate the plan to teachers. 
     
    • The nurse will coordinate all communication between student/parent/school. Please do not contact teachers directly.
     
    • In-person learners who are given short-term (up to 3 school days) remote access permission (ie. illness, screening exclusions) are expected to turn in all assignments but will not be able to take assessments. The student will work alongside their Guidance Counselor/Learning Specialist to schedule makeup assessments upon their return to school.
     
    • In-person learners requesting to go remote for more than 3 school days will need to remain on remote instruction for at least two weeks (a total of 14 calendar days). Students will be able to take assessments if available by the teacher.
     
    Students who are learning remotely: 
     
    • Remote learners who have previously been approved by the school are expected to attend all classes as per their regular schedule. Absences will be tracked by teachers, guidance, and administration.
     
    • Families requesting to switch to in-person from long-term remote must be made in writing to the nurse. Once the request is made, the nurse will work with the family to work on a timeline of returning to school and will make sure all medical documentation is in place. 
  • September 29: Upper School Dismissal Today & Other Campus Updates

    Please read through this email carefully for updates on Upper School Policies & Procedures to ensure everyone's health and safety.
     
    DISMISSAL
    On a rainy or cold day, we will implement our Indoor Dismissal Procedure which will have all cars pick-up from the Main Parking Lot. Given this afternoon’s forecast, we will use this procedure today. 
     
    • Cars entering the school coming north (going away from Northfield) on Pleasant Valley Way will use the normal turn-in lane to enter campus. Noted in yellow. 
    • Cars entering the school coming south (going towards Northfield) on Pleasant Valley Way will use the exit turn-in lane to enter campus. Noted in blue. 
    • These two lanes will merge towards the bottom of the hill and turn into one lane that will circle the Main Parking Lot for pick-up. Noted in orange. 
    • Once your child has been picked up, all cars will be directed to exit out of the Main Parking Lot through the Lower Field exit onto Pleasant Valley Way. 
     
    Please remember the following guidelines still apply:
     
    • Everyone arriving on campus, even if fully planning to remain in your vehicle, must be wearing a mask. 
    • Please have your window down and mask on so that you can hear and follow announcements made by our team.
    • Pay attention to the movement of the line. Please refrain from using your phone while moving through the dismissal line as this distraction can be dangerous to you, our students and other vehicles in the lot.
     
    ARRIVAL
    Morning drop-off is between 7:50 – 8:15 am. Please arrive during this time only, anyone arriving earlier will be instructed to remain in their car, with their students, until 7:50am. Teachers will begin bringing students into classrooms at 8:15 am, and whether we are indoors or outdoors, those arriving late cause delays in both the parking lot and traffic flow in the building. If a student arrives after 8:15 am, there will be a longer wait time to be screened and it is likely the student will be late to class and marked tardy. 
     
    On a rainy or cold day, students will report indoors after their initial screening outside. Students will stay in their assigned indoor locations until their 1st period teachers bring them to class beginning at 8:15 am. 
     
    PHYSICAL DISTANCING
    We are in this together – and in-person instruction will only work if we follow the policies put in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety. All students must adhere to physical distancing guidelines. A minimum of six feet must be maintained between one another and students should not touch one another at any time. If a student does not comply with this policy, they will receive a warning from a teacher. Should they continue to not adhere, they will be sent home for the day and a re-entry plan will be discussed between the student, parents and the school. 
     
    LUNCH/RECESS
    On a rainy or cold day, students will eat lunch indoors. A staggered schedule will move students from their classroom to a larger space for eating physically distanced from one another. 
     
     
    Thank you for your help in making #TheRoadBacktoGOA a smooth one!
  • September 26: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    Shavuah tov. I’m writing this evening to inform you that the older sibling (in 3A) of the Gan-A student who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, has now also tested positive for COVID-19. This student was tested along with their younger sibling on Thursday and while that test came back negative, an additional test was done simultaneously and sent to the lab. It is best-practice to conduct this type of secondary test when an immediate family member's test comes back negative while another household family has already tested positive. The results of that secondary test came back from the lab less than an hour ago, and we wanted to notify our community as soon as possible. At this time, there are no other students in our school who we are awaiting additional test results on. Fortunately, this student, much like their younger sibling, continues to remain asymptomatic. I know that our entire community joins me in sending our absolute best thoughts and prayers to these students and their family.
     
    There are some who asked, following the original email on Thursday, about the status of other family members. It should be understood that, from a legal standpoint, we are only permitted to share information with our community about those who have tested positive. This is the guidance we have received and the protocol that we will continue to follow. 
     
    Our team will be communicating further with our 3rd grade parents with information about mandatory quarantining and remote instruction for the coming days.
     
    In-person, and remote, instruction at Golda Och Academy will resume on Tuesday, September 29.
     
    We have been in constant communication with our local public health officials while also following CDC, state, and local health department guidance in order to assure the health and safety of our community. Close contacts will be notified accordingly, as the local health department (in the town where this family resides) completes their contact tracing procedures. 
     
    With Yom Kippur beginning tomorrow night, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone in our community a safe and meaningful fast. 
     
    Gmar chatimah tovah,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 25: Follow-Up to First Positive COVID Case

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,

    We appreciate that the news of a positive COVID diagnosis in our Lower School community is stressful and anxiety-provoking. As you read in my communication last night, we are taking every measure to keep our entire student body and faculty safe and healthy. We have followed our protocols and procedures fully and have shared as much specific information that we are permitted to share at this time. The local health department (in the town where this family lives) has taken full responsibility for the contact tracing process — as is required by law — and we will continue to stay in close communication with them should there be more information to share out in the days ahead. In the meantime, this student, and their entire family, will remain on the required 14-day quarantine. Should any additional positive tests emerge, we will communicate those out as well in as timely a fashion as possible. 

    As per our Road Back to GOA Reopening guide, and in consultation with the local health department and our medical advisors, we made the decision to close our Wilf Lower School campus today for two important reasons. The first was to give our team the opportunity to complete a deep cleaning. The second reason was out of respect and support for our faculty which learned of this first positive case in our immediate school community late last night. Please understand that while it is at our discretion as to whether we close one or both campuses at any time given a reported positive case, it is also at our discretion to determine how to proceed via remote instruction based on the time we are alerted to a positive case. While we do not expect to have to cancel instruction every time we have a positive case, we do reserve the right to adjust the start time/schedule on any given remote instruction experience as needed.

    Some of you have reached out with questions regarding whether to have your child(ren) tested. While the health department does not require such testing, we encourage you to reach out to your pediatrician with questions and/or concerns about how best to proceed. 

    I know that we all want nothing more than to continue our learning on campus safely and responsibly with as few interruptions as possible. As I have said before, everyone has a responsibility in making that a reality. I urge all of you to be vigilant when it comes to physical distancing, mask-wearing and refraining from gathering with any group outside of your immediate family during these upcoming chagim/holidays (and beyond). Should we learn that anyone in our community is acting irresponsibly and/or not adhering to these communal expectations, we reserve the right to remove that family from on-campus instruction/activities. I sincerely hope that we never have to take these actions as I am confident that our community is committed to looking out for the safety and well-being of one another.

    Shabbat shalom and g'mar chatimah tovah,

    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 24: October 2020 COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, we will be requiring mandatory COVID screenings between October 9-16 for all of our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, they will be assisting us in making this easier for our families so that we can, once again, have 100% compliance with this requirement. We are so grateful to our families and staff for your continued cooperation and support of our ongoing health and safety policies.  
     
    In order to satisfy this requirement what do I need to do?
    All students, faculty and staff must be tested between October 9-16, 2020. All results must be received and uploaded to the Magnus portal in advance of Monday, October 19, 2020 in order for students to return to school for learning that week.
     
    What test(s) are acceptable/unacceptable?
    Everyone must complete a PCR or antigen test. Antibody tests will not be accepted.
     
    Can we expect to have more testing like this (for all students, faculty and staff) throughout the school year?
    Yes. While the testing dates for regular testing have not yet been set for the remainder of the school year, we do anticipate requiring students, faculty and staff to be tested regularly at different points throughout the year. Please keep in mind that there are a number of factors that impact our decision-making. In order to require testing, we must first ensure that there will be ample testing supplies in our immediate community and we also need to have a window of time that is of acceptable length to enable us to test the almost 650 people within our school community.
     
    Do I have to be tested at PM Pediatrics?
    No. While we are pleased to have this partnership and provide this easy-to-use option for our families, it is not a requirement to be tested at one of their facilities. Families can feel free to consult with their primary care physician for additional options and/or visit another testing site in the region.
     
    The last round of testing happened during the summer, what will this round look like and what do I need to do if I want my child(ren) to be tested at PM Pediatrics? 
    The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Given the fact that we will be in school during the week of October 12 (unlike our last round of testing in August), the scheduling process is a bit different.
     
    We planned the testing during this period of time because we are closed on Friday, October 9, for Hoshanah Rabbah, which enables PM Pediatrics to open three of their offices (Livingston, Springfield and North Brunswick) at the off-hour times of 9am-12pm just for our GOA families. The timing for testing on October 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 will be set for times after our normal school hours so that families can pick up at dismissal and make their way to Livingston in time for their appointments. Please continue reading below for those details.
     
    Still have questions?
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions or concerns. 
     
    Gmar chatimah tovah,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  
  • September 23: Positive COVID Case Notification

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    Earlier today we were made aware that individuals who attended services at the Chabad of West Orange for Rosh Hashanah have tested positive for COVID-19. Recognizing that our community is diverse — as we draw families from over 50 shuls across the region — we wanted to send this notice out broadly. 
     
    If any of our students/faculty, or direct family members, attended either the indoor services on the second day of Rosh Hashanah at Chabad, or the community Shofar service that afternoon at Degnan Park, we ask that you contact Nurse Ilena (Upper School) or Nurse Roberta (Lower School) and let them know. Should there be a need for anyone to do anything further, they will provide the proper guidance.  
     
    As we look ahead to the upcoming chagim, we want to take this opportunity to once again remind our GOA families to be safe and responsible when it comes to physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing. We also advise that members of our community — in looking out for themselves and one another — adhere to NJ State restrictions and guidelines when it comes to large gatherings.
     
    Gmar chatimah tovah,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 17: Mandatory COVID Testing — Mark Your Calendars

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    In our ongoing effort to keep our community healthy and safe, we will be requiring mandatory COVID screenings between October 9-16 for all of our students, faculty and staff. Thanks to our strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, they will be assisting us in making this easier for our families so that we can, once again, have 100% compliance with this requirement. We are so grateful to our families and staff for your continued cooperation and support of our ongoing health and safety policies. 
     
    Later this week, we will be sending out a detailed communication outlining all of the steps that our community will need to take. Please note that while we appreciate the team at PM Pediatrics working on this with us, families are still free to go to other testing sites or their primary care physician for PCR or antigen testing. 
     
    Important information to note: 
     
    • All testing must take place between October 9-16, 2020.
    • Everyone must receive a negative test result (and upload it to Magnus) prior to returning to school on Monday, October 19.
    • Acceptable testing includes PCR or antigen, not an antibody screening. 
    • Recognizing that our school is closed on Friday, October 9 for Hoshana Rabah, PM Pediatrics will be offering special morning hours (at multiple PMPeds locations) just for GOA families.
    • Students who will be switching from remote instruction to on-campus learning beginning October 5 (and who have been/or will be tested in advance of returning to school), must also complete another COVID screening during this period of time.    
     
    We are in Week 3 of the school year and it continues to be exciting and exhilarating to welcome our students back to school every day. While our engaging classrooms and lively outdoor spaces may encourage us all to feel like we are back to normal, we must continue to be vigilant when it comes to physical distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing — both here in school and at home. We know that this is even more difficult during this period of the chagim, and thank you all for maintaining your focus and attention on keeping our students, faculty and staff safe, healthy and here in school.  
     
    Please keep an eye out for more detailed information about testing and the scheduling process with PM Pediatrics later this week. 
     
    G'mar chatimah tovah,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 16: Reminders and Updates

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As we continue to develop (and refine) our new rhythms and patterns for the school year, we wanted to be in touch with some important updates and reminders for the coming days and weeks. Please be sure to read all the way through and let us know if you have any questions. 
     
    Celebrating the chagim (Jewish holidays)
     
    Being vigilant when it comes to physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing, is of paramount importance and it’s vital that we not let our guard down as we enter this period of the upcoming Jewish holidays. We must all remain committed to keeping ourselves and our entire GOA community safe and healthy. While we cannot formally restrict travel, it’s important that our community remember that there are currently 30 states on the NJ Travel Advisory list. If your holiday plans require that you be in one of these places, you must let the school know as there will be a mandatory quarantine as per our state’s guidelines. Additionally, while most synagogues in our area have moved to virtual services, we do know that there are some synagogues who still plan to gather their congregations together. If you choose to participate in these in-person services, we urge you to be vigilant when it comes to all health and safety protocols. 
     
    Additionally, while we understand that some may want to have holiday meals with friends and family, it should be understood that as a result of similar gatherings over recent weeks that a number of Jewish day schools — in Bergen County and New York City — have been forced to quarantine whole grades/divisions as a result of positive COVID cases. While we know that there is no way to fully prevent the spread, taking the necessary steps to mitigate risk is of paramount importance. 
     
    Returning to on-campus learning for those learning remotely
     
    We have been pleased to hear that a number of students who have begun the year learning remotely would like to return to on-campus instruction as soon as possible. As was noted prior to the start of the school year, all students who begin the year learning remotely must do so through at least Thursday, October 1 with a return to campus no earlier than Monday, October 5. If you would like to have your child(ren) transition to on-campus learning, please initiate that process by emailing Nurse Roberta or Nurse Ilena no later than this Thursday, September 17. Our nurses will guide you through the protocols and screenings that are required for a successful return to campus. 
     
    For those who will remain on remote (or transition later this year), we appreciate your continued patience and support as we make the necessary technology changes and adjustments along the way. While our team prepared for several different scenarios over this past summer, there are many things that could only be learned once students and teachers were back on campus. Classroom teachers are juggling an incredible amount, and while we are all committed to the success of our students — both at home and on campus — we must also acknowledge the tremendous challenges involved. 
     
    Remote learning if a student is out of school for a day
     
    We recognize that given the current hybrid setup, students who learn on campus may wish to join remotely should they find themselves out of school for a day. While in theory this may seem straightforward from the perspective of our students and parents, it is not as simple from a management and technology standpoint. If a student is ill or needs to be out of school for the day, just as we did prior to this school year, it is perfectly reasonable for a parent to keep their child home and give them the time to recover and feel better. If your child will be out of school due to extenuating circumstances, please reach out to your campus leadership team for approval to learn remotely. Families of students learning on-campus will not be granted this option on a regular basis. 
     
    Please note that on-campus learners who have been granted permission to learn remotely while out for a day, will not be permitted to complete assessments that were intended to be administered in the classroom. Those make-up assessments will take place when a student returns to school.
     
    Safety protocols while on campus
     
    Masks are required for everyone on campus — both inside and outside. Whether you are on the carline, simply rolling down your window to speak with a member of our team or stepping out of your car for a moment, a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin must be worn. There will be absolutely no exceptions to this policy, as the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community are of paramount importance. Additionally, we appreciate the continued patience as we tweak and adjust our arrival and dismissal procedures. While many kinks have already been worked out —and others are in the process of being addressed — there may be other challenges that arise in the weeks ahead. Mrs. Siegel and Mr. Herskowitz will continue to communicate essential information as needed. 
     
    Technology in our school
     
    We know that our entire community joins together in wishing our Lower School Director of Technology, Moreh Michael Newman, a refuah shleimah (a full and speedy recovery) as he is now, fortunately, home from the hospital and recovering from a non-COVID related illness over the past few weeks. We hope to have him back in school soon and thank the many members of our team who have stepped up in his absence to deal with the increased demands of our current reality. 
     
    We would also like to thank Mrs. Karen Ulric, our Upper School Librarian, who continues to post helpful technology tips on our website resource boards. As many of our students and teachers (and parents) may be managing multiple Google profiles, she prepared this important tip sheet on how to keep your school/work profiles separate from your personal ones. Please feel free to click on this link to learn more.  
     
    Wishing our entire Golda Och Academy community a happy, healthy and sweet 5781!
     
    Shanah tovah,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • September 11: The first week of our unique school year

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    We did it. Over this past week we crossed the finish line of what has been an unbelievably trying summer filled with planning, purchasing and a great deal of creative thinking. Our team that has been working around the clock to make this happen was able to take a short breath before stepping up to the starting line of this new school year. To say that there wasn’t so much time in between these two moments would be a fairly large understatement.
     
    Now, three days in, I am humbled, impressed and inspired by every one of our teachers and students. Having walked the empty halls of our buildings over these past few months longing for our community to return, it was truly awesome to see both campuses come alive with smiles, laughs and meaningful learning this week. Together we said the words of the shehechiyanu on Tuesday night as we began the journey that is our unique new school year, and now we have a deep responsibility to one another to complete this marathon together.
     
    I cannot stress enough the important role that every single member of our community plays in the ultimate success of this school year and our ability to keep the doors of our school open. It is not enough to simply hope for the best, rather everyone — students, teachers and parents alike — must commit themselves to doing their part to look out for every member of our community. While it is tempting to believe that all is back to normal, we must remind ourselves that we are not yet at the end of the tunnel and that we must continue to remain focused on the goal at hand.
     
    In these coming days and weeks we will continue to stress the importance of our health and safety protocols with our students and faculty and we need the help of all of our parents and caregivers to both reinforce their importance while also reminding ourselves that we cannot become complacent. 
     
    In his recent op-ed in the NY Times (When It Comes to Covid-19, Most of Us Have Risk Exactly Backward), Dr. Aaron Carroll noted that being responsible during this pandemic is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Rather, he argues that as we make the decision to return to school it means that we also need to consciously reduce the risks we take in other areas of our lives. “Each decision we make to reduce risk helps. Each time we wear a mask, we’re throwing some safety on the pile. Each time we socialize outside instead of inside, we’re throwing some safety on the pile. Each time we stay six feet away instead of sitting closer together, we’re throwing some safety on the pile. Each time we wash our hands, eat apart and don’t spend time in large gatherings of people, we’re adding to the pile. If the pile gets big enough, we as a society can keep this thing in check.” 
     
    It is so vitally important that we as a community take this message to heart. It does not matter how much time and money we have expended in our effort to reopen our school this week as there is no secret weapon to keep ourselves fully protected from the virus. Rather, we all need to be smart and think twice before doing something that adds more risk to our “pile.” While we may think that our decisions just impact those in our immediate sphere, we cannot forget the responsibility we have towards one another. 
     
    This past Wednesday marked the beginning of my 18th “chai” year at Golda Och Academy and it is my hope to share out many of the wonderful #chailights of my time here in school via Instagram over the coming weeks and months. While there have been so many amazing moments of joy and happiness, I also have many vivid memories of moments where we as a school community (and as individuals), have persevered in the face of adversity. While this pandemic is certainly the biggest test that any of us have ever faced, I am confident in the power of our community to come together, and stay together, if we commit ourselves to making that happen. 
     
    We have a long road ahead of us, but at this moment we also have a tremendous amount to be grateful for. The smiles on the faces of our students (even if covered by masks) said it all this week and I know that we all want to keep that going for many more weeks and months to come. Your patience, flexibility and respect continue to be appreciated and while we are asking all of you to commit yourselves to our community, please know that our entire team is committed to doing all that we can to make this an outstanding year of learning and growth for our students. There will undoubtedly be some bumps, last-minute schedule changes and other adjustments made along the way and we thank you in advance for the continued trust and faith that you have placed in our institution. 
     
    We are all in this together and there is, in my humble opinion, no greater team to be on.  
     
    Wishing our entire GOA community a shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School 
  • August 28: Continuing on the Road Back to GOA

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    12 days. 
     
    12 days until we start what we know will be an exciting, inspiring and anything but usual new school year. 
     
    Growing up in my home meant that my mother always tried (and still does to this day!) to find Jewish meaning (gematria) to any and all numbers put in front of us. The number 12 is a great example as it represents wholeness and completeness as seen through both the tribes of Israel and the number of months in a year. How fitting it is to think about where we stand, at this moment in time, as a community about to embark on our year of learning together. It has by no means been easy to arrive at this day and we have only been able to do so thanks to the hard work and dedication of our entire team of professionals.  
     
    There is quite a bit still to be done by both our team and our entire community in order to ensure a safe and responsible return to school. I am confident that if we all continue to do our part, that all of the hard work and energy that has brought us to this moment will have been well worth it.
     
    The Responsibility of our Kehillah (community) 
     
    As we said in The Road Back to GOA Reopening Guide, it is imperative that we as a community make a commitment to one another to take mask wearing, physical distancing and all other risk mitigation steps seriously. Ultimately, our ability to both return to school safely and remain there, is in the hands of each and every student, parent and teacher. I want to thank you for taking the COVID-19 testing requirement seriously and appreciate you taking the time to bring your children for their tests in the coming days. Once completed, please be cognizant of the steps that you must take in order to keep your own children, and others in our community, healthy and safe in advance of (and during) the school year.
     
    Patience and respect must remain at the center for our community as well. There are many new policies and procedures that have been put in place for the new school year and it will certainly take time for all of us to make the necessary adjustments. We are asking our talented and dedicated teachers to do new things in their classrooms (and online/outdoors as well!) and while they have all spent hours training and preparing, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be bumps along the way. Know that they are working their hardest and that we are all open to make changes and corrections along the way.
     
    Our Faculty
     
    We cannot wait to welcome our faculty back to campus next week for our Professional Days. It is during these days in school that they will continue to be oriented to our new policies and procedures, setting up their classrooms and readying all of their materials for their students - both those who will be learning on-campus and remotely. 
     
    In these anything but normal times, we are even more grateful to them for their willingness and desire to be back in school educating our students. It is also vitally important that we keep in mind that while they are all incredibly committed to their work, they have their own families and responsibilities to tend to as well. Unfortunately, the reality of the pandemic is that some faculty will not be returning for the current school year in order to tend to either their family needs or personal health challenges.
     
    I applaud the work of our educational leadership team in filling these gaps and ask for continued patience as we work to fill some gaps that still remain. While classes will be covered, we also know that we will be making moves and adjustments throughout the first weeks of the school year and thank our faculty for their flexibility and our parents and students for their understanding.
     
    Thank you to all of our parents and students who have participated in our Back to School Orientations (and in advance to those who will be attending them next week). We would like to remind you that all of those sessions have been recorded and will be available to view on our website next week. Some parents have had very grade-level specific questions about the remote experience and I am confident that our faculty will be able to answer those questions in even greater detail once they are fully situated back in school. Again, your patience and understanding on this front as we navigate this new reality together is much appreciated.
     
    First Days of School
     
    As we look ahead to the first days of school we do so with both the academic and social-emotional needs of our students in mind. While our school never technically closed back in March, we do know that the adjustment back to learning this year will be very different than in the past. When you couple this with new policies and procedures, we are doing our absolute best to ensure that we are setting everyone - students, parents and teachers - up for success.
     
    We appreciate that all of our families completed the survey that was sent out last week regarding choosing between on-campus and remote instruction for the first part of the school year. Recognizing that roughly 85% of our students will be returning to campus, it’s imperative that we take the time to see our school in action during those first days in order to make any and all necessary adjustments. To that end, we have made some modifications to the first days of school for both practical and logistical reasons. Please be sure to note the changes below for September 9, 10 and 11. 
     
    Wednesday, September 9
     
    Wilf Lower School Campus
    • Students in Grades 1-5 will come to school for a regular 8:20 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • Students in Grades Pre-K and Gan will start school at 10:30 am, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 10:00 am.
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 3:15 pm.
     
    Eric F. Ross Upper School Campus
    • Students in Grades 6-9 will come to school for a regular 8:30 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • All students in Grades 10-12 will be learning remotely from home while following their regular school schedule and meeting with their teachers via Zoom. 
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 4:00 pm.
     
    Thursday, September 10
     
    Wilf Lower School Campus
    • Students in Grades 1-5 will come to school for a regular 8:20 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • Students in Grades Pre-K and Gan will start school at 10:30 am, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 10:00am.
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 3:15 pm.
     
    Eric F. Ross Upper School Campus
    • Students in Grades 6, 10, 11 & 12 will come to school for a regular 8:30 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • All students in Grades 7-9 will be learning remotely from home while following their regular school schedule and meeting with their teachers via Zoom.
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 4:00 pm.
     
    Friday, September 11
     
    Wilf Lower School Campus
    • All students (Pre-K through 5th) will come to school for a regular 8:20 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 2:00 pm.
     
    Eric F. Ross Upper School Campus
    • Students in Grades 6-9 will come to school for a regular 8:30 am start, with arrival and screening procedures beginning at 7:50 am.
    • All students in Grades 10-12 will be learning remotely from home while following their regular school schedule and meeting with their teachers via Zoom. 
    • Dismissal will be at the usual time of 2:00 pm.
     
     
    On Monday, September 14 we expect to be fully operational with all (on-campus) students, Pre-K-12th, arriving at school on-time for the start of the school day. Making these adjustments on the first days of school will give us the opportunity to see all of our arrival/dismissal procedures in action (including wellness checks through our SchoolPass app and temperature screenings upon arrival), enable us to see how students flow through both campuses and will provide us with the ability to make any and all necessary adjustments in advance of having all students fully back on campus.
     
    There will be more information to share between now and the start of the school year and our promise to our entire GOA community is that we will continue to keep you informed along the way. Thank you again for your ongoing partnership and support.
     
    Shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • August 17: COVID-19 Testing

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    We are pleased to inform you that as of today we have entered into a strategic partnership with the medical professionals at PM Pediatrics on behalf of our school and community. 
     
    What does this mean for our GOA students, faculty and staff? 
     
    First and foremost, PM Pediatrics will be assisting us with COVID-19 testing for any student, faculty or staff member who wishes to visit either their Livingston or Springfield locations. The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Based on interest following signups through their web portal (all instructions regarding scheduling and testing can be found below), they will be opening their locations at specifically designated hours just for our GOA community in order to fully expedite this process in advance of the school year. This rapid antigen testing will enable those being tested to receive results on the same day that the test is taken. For students who are tested at PM Pediatrics, a special form can be completed during the visit which will allow their team to send results directly to our school nurses. 
     
    Additionally, this strategic partnership will provide us with access to the PM Pediatrics medical team throughout the school year both for consultation and for rapid COVID-19 testing should we require it. Simply put, if someone is showing signs of illness during the school year they can be immediately referred to PM Pediatrics by either Nurse Roberta or Nurse Ilena. Our community will receive timely service and we will be able to address any and all potential health issues immediately. While there is a tremendous amount that’s still unknown about COVID-19, we do understand that the sooner we receive information that we can act on, the safer that we can keep our entire GOA community.
     
    For those students, faculty or staff who have already scheduled COVID-19 testing elsewhere, there is no need to change those arrangements. The opportunity to be tested at PM Pediatrics is still very much your choice and so long as you are doing PCR or antigen testing, you can do it anywhere that testing is administered.
     
    Please note that testing is only valid if done within 14 days of your first day back on campus (for students that is September 8 when we will be holding lice checks; and for faculty that date coincides with the first professional development day on September 2).
     
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  
  • August 11: The Road Back to GOA — Reopening Plan

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    We are pleased to be able to share our school’s reopening guide, The Road Back to GOA, with our community today. In this guide you will see important information about new policies and procedures that we will be implementing for the coming school year in an effort to ensure a safe and responsible return to on-campus learning for our students and teachers. Ultimately, we know that in order for us to make this return to campus a reality in September, it will require the ongoing commitment of every member of our GOA community.    
     
    Recognizing that there may be questions after you’ve had a chance to review this document, we will be holding a number of orientations and technology training sessions in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year for both our parents and students. While the list of programs is below, a more detailed calendar with specific dates, times and Zoom links will be forthcoming. 
     
    Thank you for your continued partnership and support of our school,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • July 31: Reopening FAQs #2

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    I hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones staying well and enjoying the summer. Our team very much appreciated the positive response — and additional questions — that we received following last week’s community update. In an effort to keep our GOA community informed, we are pleased to share more information below. This set of questions and answers have been generated as a result of the ongoing work and decisions being made by our GOA Reopening Team (please click here to visit our GOA Fall 2020 Reopening Plan page), as well as those that were submitted by members of our community. 
     
    Please take a few moments to read to the end of this email and please also let us know if you have any additional questions. Please feel free to email Glenn Slavin, Director of Marketing and Communications, with questions you’d like to see addressed in the future.   
     
    In partnership, 
     
    Adam Shapiro 
    Head of School


    Frequently Asked Questions
    Please note that all answers below are based on the most current, up-to-date information and analysis that we have at our disposal. All of this information is subject to change depending on a number of factors that may ultimately prove to be out of our control.
     
     
    Q: Governor Murphy continues to update the Travel Advisory list of states that require a 14-day quarantine upon returning to NJ. What should we do if we are planning a trip/visit to one of these states?
     
    A: We ask that all families visit the NJ Travel Advisory site (which is updated regularly) to learn more about the states that are currently part of the Travel Advisory list. As a kehillah(community) that looks out for the health and well-being of our fellow families, we ask that everyone in our GOA community take this advisory seriously. If you are traveling to one of these states, please plan to return to New Jersey no later than August 24 to ensure that you are in compliance with this order. Students and faculty will not be permitted to physically return to school prior to the end of a mandatory quarantine period. Please note that this will be true prior to school starting and throughout the school year (so long as the Travel Advisory list is in effect).

    Q: Has a final decision been made regarding the Online Learning Platforms and video conferencing software that will be used for the 2020-21 school year?
     
    A: Following extensive research and work by our educational technology team, the following online learning platforms will be used during the 2020-2021 school year: 
     
    • Students in grades Pre-K through 3rd will be using Seesaw.
     
     
    • We have upgraded our school to the Zoom Enterprise platform which means that all virtual meetings, hybrid classes and other programs throughout the school year will be broadcast using Zoom. 
     
    We appreciate the importance of training all students and parents on these platforms and will be sharing more information on when that training will take place. Meanwhile, our faculty is already participating in professional development focused on this technology in order to ensure a smooth and positive experience for everyone.

    Q: Given the different considerations and procedures that will be in effect this year, what will a school day look like under the different scenarios. 
     
    A: Our teams on both campuses are still in the process of finalizing all of our new daily procedures and will outline them further in our Reopening Policy Handbook, which will be made available in early August. As it relates to the daily schedule, some things will be consistent throughout our entire institution and others will be division and grade-level specific. The length of the day is projected to remain the same at this time, though we are currently exploring whether staggered arrival and/or dismissal may be helpful. More information on those procedures will be forthcoming. Additionally, we expect that while on campus, students will be more limited in terms of their movement throughout the buildings. 
     
    • In the Lower School, students will primarily remain in 1-2 classrooms each day. However, we will also use additional spaces for break out groups, individual support, and larger meetings (appropriately physically-distanced). 
     
    • In the Upper School, we will also be limiting movement between classrooms and a staggered bell schedule will be put in place in order to decrease density in the halls as students and faculty move throughout the day.  
     
    • On both campuses, we plan to maximize outdoor space — both for classes and lunch/recess — and will share more details in upcoming communications.
     
    If we find ourselves operating exclusively on a remote schedule, we are committed to a robust, engaging, standardized schedule (Pre-K through 12th) that is implemented from day one. Students and parents will have access to these schedules in advance and the periods of the day will reflect the different modalities of instruction. 
     
    • Our Lower School education team has created sample schedules that combine live instruction, a blend of live and asynchronous instruction (ie. teachers may begin live or post a short mini lesson, followed by independent or small group work or students may work independently, followed by a group wrap up), specials that may be both live and/or asynchronous, and virtual homework and academic support. To view these sample schedules for grades 1-5, please click here. Please note that these schedules are merely a guide for your reference and are subject to change in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, a more detailed breakdown, by general and Judaic studies, will be provided in advance of the start of the school year. Our team continues to finalize schedules for early childhood grades (Pre-K and Gan) and those will be shared in the coming weeks.
     
    • Middle School and High School schedules will remain consistent (albeit with some minor changes to class timing). Student-specific schedules will be completed — for both on-campus and remote instruction — in the coming weeks and will be shared with students when they are finalized.

    Q: In the past there has been a PA-run lunch program in the Lower School and a lunch ordering system which allowed students to order from local kosher vendors in the Upper School, will these lunch programs be happening in school this year? 
     
    A: Given the many challenges that exist when it comes to food services, we will be suspending our school lunch program — on both campuses — for the start of the school year. While we anticipate this will remain in effect for the majority of the school year, our team will revisit this decision - and will continue to work closely with our Parents Association — once the school year gets under way. All students will be required to bring their own dairy or pareve brown bag lunch in accordance with our school’s kashrut policy (which can be found in our Student Handbook). All packed lunches and snacks should be nut-free.
    Q: Has GOA received any information from NJSIAA regarding the fall season of Varsity athletics?
     
    A: Our Athletic Director, Mr. Dennis Kozar, has been in close touch with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) regarding the upcoming fall sports season. While there is much that’s still undecided, the plan that they’ve released to-date calls for high school fall sports (Boys and Girls Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Girls Tennis, Co-Ed Cross Country) to begin with preseason practices in late August (HS athletes will receive more information from Mr. Kozar) and competition beginning during the first week of October and lasting for six weeks. While we have not yet made a final decision on our school’s participation, we want to know what the parents of our fall student-athletes are thinking. For those who have played in the past or are thinking about it for this year, please complete this brief survey.
     
    Q: Will there be Middle School athletics this fall? 
     
    A: Mr. Kozar is currently in discussion with the Athletic Directors from other schools to determine the path forward for our Middle School sports teams for the fall. While many schools that we compete against have already determined that they will not be participating in team sports this fall, we are still doing our due diligence and will be back in touch with our Middle School families once we have more to share. Should we not be able to participate in team sports, Mr. Kozar and his team are already working on plans for our middle school student-athletes to continue their athletic pursuits here in school.


    Q: Will Aftercare and Funtracks be happening in the Lower School this year?
     
    A: Ms. Jul McCormick-Anesh sent out a letter and survey to our Lower School families last week regarding Aftercare and Funtracks for the coming school year. In order to ensure the safety of all students and faculty involved, we will be making changes to these programs this year. To learn more and to respond to the survey - to provide input and express interest in these programs — please click here to complete the survey by Monday, August 3 at 11 am.




  • July 23: Reopening FAQs

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    Our Golda Och Academy Reopening Task Force continues to work hard in preparation for our return to on-campus instruction on September 9 (outlined on the Fall 2020 Reopening Plan page on our website). We also understand that our ability to be on campus remains contingent on the positive public health trends in our community/State, with the continuation of the low rate of COVID transmission in NJ being the biggest driver in this equation. As we engage in this important planning work in many different areas, we continue to follow guidance set forth by Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, the CDC and AAP and our own medical experts.  
     
    We very much appreciate hearing from our parents and students with the questions that are top of mind and in the coming weeks we will be sending out updates (like that which you see below) to further inform you about our work and planning. As we look ahead to future communications — and to the completion of our 2020-21 Reopening Policy Handbook which will be shared in early August — please feel free to email Glenn Slavin, Director of Marketing and Communications, with questions you’d like to see addressed. Our goal is to answer those questions which have come up most often in an effort to keep our community well-informed.   
     
    In partnership, 
     
    Adam Shapiro 
    Head of School


    Frequently Asked Questions
    Please note that all answers below are based on the most current, up-to-date information and analysis that we have at our disposal. All of this information is subject to change depending on a number of factors that may ultimately prove to be out of our control.  
     
    Q: Recognizing that the goal is to return to school for on-campus instruction beginning on September 9, is it possible to safely and responsibly fit all of our students into our two buildings?
     
    A: Our team has completed an extensive space analysis and, yes, we all can fit. In order to do so, we are being creative with our space usage. This means repurposing some of our larger spaces and utilizing outdoor spaces under tents and on our fields. Additionally, some protective barriers have already been installed — using plexiglass and other materials — in order to ensure that classrooms, offices and other spaces are as safe as possible.  
     
     
    Q: Will we be utilizing outdoor spaces?
     
    A: Yes. Through our partnership with local camps and vendors we have secured a number of tents to be used on both campuses. It is our goal to use these spaces both for instruction and for lunch/snack time. We also recognize that this is a very weather-dependent solution and we are still in the process of investigating what this may look like when the weather changes in a few months.
     
    Q: Will we be implementing a hybrid model of instruction where some students are in school and others are at home?
     
    A: Yes. We are outfitting all classrooms with the necessary audio/video equipment to successfully implement this model. We are doing this for multiple reasons. First, for those families who may not yet feel comfortable sending their child(ren) back to school, we want to ensure that all students have the ability to access instruction from their teachers. (If you have not yet had a chance to complete the survey from Mr. Shapiro’s last update, you can find it by clicking here). Second, in the case where a student(s) may have been exposed to COVID and require a mandatory quarantine, having this system in place enables learning to continue.
     
    Q: What is the status of Online Learning Platforms for the 2020-21 school year?  
     
    A: Our educational technology team is in the last stages of finalizing (and purchasing) the online learning platforms that we will be using this year. This has been an extensive and exhaustive process that has included many conversations with colleagues in the field, while also incorporating the feedback received from students, teachers and parents throughout the last few months of the school year in an effort to ensure that we are putting the absolute best software in place. Those decisions will be finalized in the coming days and will be communicated by Mr. Herskowitz and Mrs. Siegel. Our faculty will be fully trained/prepared to implement them beginning on the first day of school and both parents and students will learn more about them and receive the necessary training/orientation. 
     
    Q: Will my child need access to a device/technology this year?
     
    A: Yes. Given that we will be implementing these new technology platforms, it is important that all students have access to a device this year. Recognizing that all platforms and programs we will be using are web-based, we are not requiring any specific piece of technology. Additional guidance will be forthcoming from our educational technology team and campus principals as the use of technology will look different depending on the age(s) of your child(ren).
     
    Q: What health protocols will be in place this year?
     
    A: Our Health and Safety team — which is being led by our school nurses, Nurse Ilena Kasdan and Nurse Roberta Coopersmith — have been meeting regularly, working closely with their colleagues from other NJAIS schools, combing through all of the guidance from the State, CDC and the AAP in order to finalize all of our health protocols/procedures for the coming year. Additionally, we are fortunate to have Dr. Jeffrey Saperstein (school parent, alumni parent and pediatrician) on board to consult with our team on the policies being put in place. While plans are still being finalized, we do know that all students and faculty will complete a daily health screening — both through an app and upon their arrival to school. There will also be updated policies in place for what happens when a student/teacher become sick during the day, which rooms on each campus will be reserved as isolation spaces in these cases, along with guidance on how long a student/teacher will have to remain out of school should they be ill — whether with COVID or any other illness. 
     
    Q: What hygiene/sanitation procedures will be in place? Do we have enough PPE on-hand? 
     
    A: We are fortunate to have a large supply of PPE, disinfecting products, sanitizers and electrostatic cleaners already on-hand. Additionally, every classroom and large space on both campuses will be outfitted with HEPA air purifiers (Golda Och Academy Receives Grant from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ). We are also in the process of developing and finalizing extensive new cleaning protocols that will be in effect all day on each campus.
     
    Q: How can parents/students best prepare for our students to be wearing masks all day? 
     
    A: Our policy will require that all students, faculty and staff be wearing masks all day while on campus. During lunch and snack times, students will have the opportunity to remove their masks and will be properly socially distanced at all times while they are removed. Our school will not be providing masks (except in case of emergency if something happens to a child’s mask) as finding ones that fit your child(ren) properly is incredibly important. All families should begin working on mask-training this summer in order that students are comfortable and ready for the start of the school year.
     
    Here are some tips for mask-training from the CDC:
     
    • Let your child(ren) pick out the ones they like.
    • Teach them to wear their mask properly (ensuring that nose, mouth and chin are covered along with regular cleaning).
    • Adults should model the importance of mask-wearing for their children.
    • Create a plan to build up stamina in your children by having them wear a mask for an increased amount of time each day.
    • Make it fun -- this helps to make mask-wearing normal and not a scary or abnormal practice.


  • July 15: Golda Och Academy Receives Grant from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ

    As part of the school’s Reopening Plan for Fall, 2020, Golda Och Academy is excited to announce that it is the recipient of a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. The grant is for the purchase of HEPA air purifiers to be installed in all of its classrooms and offices on both of their campuses in West Orange, NJ and is one of many measures being undertaken by the school to ready their campuses for in-person instruction in the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Head of School, Adam Shapiro, “our school and community are truly grateful to our partners at the Healthcare Foundation of NJ who are helping us to fulfill our mission during these unprecedented and difficult times as we deal with the impact of COVID-19.” HFNJ Executive Director, Marsha Atkind stated “Nothing could be more important in this era of Covid-19 than making sure that children and teachers return to a safe environment when school opens in the fall. We at HFNJ are happy to partner with the Golda Och Academy to help ensure safety on both their West Orange campuses.”
  • July 15: Reopening Plan

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As we continue to move through the most unprecedented and challenging summer in the history of our institution, I wanted to take this opportunity to update our community on our progress. This powerful moment in time — one filled with uncertainty and changing by the day — has forced us all to think differently and more creatively as we approach the 2020-21 school year. There are a few things that can be said with certainty:
     
    1. This WILL be a year unlike any other since our school’s founding in 1965.
    2. We will continue to do everything in our power to be ready for live, in-person instruction come September.
    3. Ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our students and teachers will continue to be the guiding principles behind every decision we make. 
     
    Where do we stand today?
     
    Our goal remains to bring everyone back to campus; and we are also working diligently to ensure that we are prepared for any one of the three possibilities (outlined on the Fall 2020 Reopening Plan page on our website) for instruction this year. 
     
    The ongoing work I have been engaged in as a member of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools Task Force on School Reopening has proved to be quite valuable as it has enabled us to work closely with our independent school counterparts, maintain our independence in our decision-making, and at the same time benefit from the valuable guidance received from the State, CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics. 
     
    Operations, Health & Safety
     
    Our Operations and Health & Safety team — which is made up of educators, our school nurses and medical professionals, has spent a great deal of time considering myriad plans to keep our community safe and healthy. Members of our team, along with outside consultants, have worked to ensure that all spaces in our buildings - including tents to be used outside — are set up properly and used in a way that ensures that safe and healthy learning can take place. They are also in the process of finalizing protocols for daily health screenings that we will share more about in the coming weeks. 
     
    From the standpoint of health and safety, we are working hard to identify how to best maintain appropriate social distancing given the range of different spaces on both campuses. While there are some spaces where we are confident that this can happen easily, there are realities on both campuses that we know will make this difficult. 
     
    To that end, all students, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks all day while on campus. Please know that this will be non-negotiable and we highly recommend that all families work with their children (starting right away) to both acquire and use masks while at home. Especially for our youngest students, it’s imperative that a level of comfort be established before the first day of school. Recognizing that the type of mask each individual wears is a personal decision, we ask that families make those purchases, test out different products and acquire enough of them so that students can have extras with them every day in school.
     
    We also take seriously the need to have clean air and improved airflow on both campuses. To that end, we are fortunate to have received a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (please see a link to the press release at the bottom of this email) to purchase HEPA filtration air purifiers for every room, including all classrooms and office spaces. Properly filtered and circulated air is critical when it comes to keeping our students and faculty safe and healthy and we are quite pleased to have been able to secure this equipment. 
     
    Our Educational Program, Technology and Systems
     
    This task force group — made up of teachers and administrators — have been working to finalize plans for the online learning platforms we will implement this year. Their work has included gathering feedback from their colleagues, students and peers in other institutions in an effort to determine what will work best for our GOA students, faculty and parents. We look forward to sharing more information about those platforms in the coming weeks along with opportunities for both parents and students to learn more about them and receive the necessary training. As has been stated previously, our students will be trained on these platforms and using them beginning on day one in order to ensure that there is no lag should we need to move between the different instructional learning scenarios this year. To that end, we highly recommend that families have plans in place for each of their children to have access to a device for the 2020-21 school year. 
     
    Additionally, as we prepare for all three operating scenarios, we recognize that there may be times when students may need to learn remotely and/or when teachers may need to instruct from outside of the classroom. Thus it’s imperative that we have the proper technology in place in every classroom. Currently our technology team is in the process of identifying/purchasing the proper equipment, installing in our classrooms and putting training programs in place for our faculty. 
     
    We also understand that, even with all of these precautionary measures in place, some families may still not be comfortable with sending their children to school for in-person instruction. If you anticipate that your child(ren) will need to participate in school remotely, please be sure to complete the following form to let us know in order that we can continue to plan accordingly.
     
     
    Expectations for the coming weeks from GOA and our Kehillah
     
    Our GOA team will continue to monitor all communication and guidance from Governor Murphy, NJAIS and the CDC as we work to confirm under which scenario to begin our academic year. As we are all well aware, the current COVID-19 situation remains fluid and there are still many unanswered questions about what the coming weeks may or may not look like. We appreciate the desire of all of our parents and students to learn more about our plans and look forward to sharing our 2020-21 Reopening Policy Handbook in early August. 
     
    In the meantime, we are asking that everyone in our GOA kehillah (community) continue to do their part to stay safe and healthy and not let their guard down when it comes to social distancing, mask wearing and proper hygiene. We have successfully flattened the curve here in NJ thanks to that diligence and the only way that we will be able to successfully return to school — and remain there — is if everyone continues to take these efforts seriously. One need look no further than the daily papers to see what has happened in places that have moved too quickly or ignored this important guidance. 
     
    I want to once again reiterate my thanks to all of our students, faculty and parents for their ongoing patience and support throughout. Looking forward to being back in touch and sharing more information soon.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School

Spring 2020

List of 15 items.

  • June 10: Head of School Update (Video)


  • June 1: The Need For Kavod (Respect)

    “Let the honor of your fellow human being be as precious to you as your own.” 
    Mishnah Avot 2:10
     
    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    Our television screens and social media feeds have been filled with so many painful and powerful images over these past few days and I have no doubt that it has led to many difficult conversations in your homes. There are so many questions and, unfortunately, very few answers. Yet, it is incumbent upon all of us to face this reality head on. 
     
    The core Jewish values of kavod (respect) and tikkun olam (repair of the world) that we hold dear in our school and community ring especially true at this particular moment in time. We therefore must engage in that work to repair our world and support our children as they work to find their own voices right now.
     
    Following the tragic death of George Floyd last week and the subsequent protests and unrest in Minneapolis and all over our country, we are all struggling to process these events. As Jews, any form of discrimination or racism is an anathema to all we believe in. Fortunately, our tradition offers many ways for us to respond and this moment provides us with a valuable opportunity to speak with our children about what it means to show respect and, above all, treat others the way we wish to be treated.   
     
    As a community, we appreciate that our students need time together to process what they are seeing and hearing in order to determine how they can and should respond. Of course, this is all the more difficult as we continue to be apart from one another. There are plans in place for programming for our Middle and High School students (beginning tomorrow) to both educate and create a safe space to have these conversations. While our youngest students will not have formal assemblies, their teachers will find ways to affirm the critical message that Mrs. Siegel highlighted this morning in her video about the importance of being an upstander even in the most difficult of situations.  
     
    In an effort to further support the partnership between school and home, we encourage you to invite your children into these conversations with you. We are grateful to our friends at Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools for putting a resource board together with some very valuable information regarding talking to students about George Floyd and racism
     
    Following the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, where Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel z’l marched arm in arm, Heschel said, “I felt my legs were praying.” It is that powerful image and thought that I hope we will embody as a community at this time.
     
    Sending my best wishes for continued good health, safety and a return to calm and peace.
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • May 15: End of the Year and Looking Ahead

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As we look ahead to completing the school year on remote instruction, I know that we are all filled with many emotions as we consider the toll that learning and teaching in this way takes on students, teachers and parents alike from both an educational and social-emotional perspective. Physical distancing has made parenting, schooling, working — and just about everything else! — much more difficult. Our routines have been forced to change. For many, the idea of downtime is a thing of the past, and while technology has enabled us to maintain some social connectivity (and in some cases to reconnect with family and friends we may have drifted from) it by no means replaces the real thing which we all — young and old alike — crave. The reality is that our students, parents and teachers are experiencing stress and anxiety while facing down this pandemic and we all look to school as a normalizing and stabilizing force.
     
    But, school has changed too. 
     
    As educators, we want nothing more than for school to be that force as well. However, we must all maintain the proper perspective as it relates to the situation we find ourselves in. Just as our parents and caregivers are doing their best to balance work and personal responsibilities, our teachers are doing the same as many of them are parents and caregivers as well. Thank you to those who have reached out to show your appreciation. Thank you as well to those who have reached out directly to share constructive feedback and suggestions with our team. As we discussed in our parent meetings earlier this month, the partnership between school and home has never been more important than it is at this moment. 
     
    Planning for 2020-21
     
    I have accepted an invitation from Carole Everett, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) to serve on the NJAIS Task Force on School Re-Opening. Along with five colleagues from around the state, I am honored to serve in this capacity and represent our school and community in these important conversations. 
     
    While specifics are still being developed as guidance changes by the day, we know that our reopening in the fall will be complex and will involve new guidelines and procedures for us to follow. Our team is preparing for increased health measures in our buildings as well as additional social-emotional support for both our students and faculty. Our school is committed to following the guidance of our local, state and federal officials as it relates to safely reopening and, as such, our thinking is centered around the following possible scenarios:
     
    • Scenario #1: We are open for in-person instruction in September, with modifications made to both schedules and classroom assignments in order to be in compliance with any and all health protocols.  
     
    • Scenario #2: We open in September with a hybrid model — a combination of in-school and remote instruction — that also includes the additional scheduling and health measures as stated in Scenario #1.  
     
    • Scenario #3: We begin the school year with a comprehensive and educationally responsible remote instruction plan spanning Pre-K through 12th grade that includes a set schedule for each grade, a robust blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning, strategically selected technology platforms, and appropriate orientations for student and parent use. 
     
    While we are all hopeful for Scenario #1 to come to fruition in September, we must be prepared for all three possibilities for the fall and we will be. As such, our team will be engaged in the following over the coming weeks and into the summer:
     
    • Ongoing consultation with our NJAIS colleagues as best practices for remote instruction are defined and implemented so that we can meet and exceed these practices in educationally responsible ways. 
     
    • Prioritizing professional development for our entire team in the areas of technology, social-emotional health and well-being and remote instruction. 
     
    • Identifying and securing all necessary resources — personnel, software and hardware — in order to ensure that we are able to operate at the highest level whether in-person or remote.
     
    I will continue to communicate (and expand on the above thinking) with our community regularly between now and the start of the new school year as developments unfold. 
     
    Milestones and End of Year Programming - Save the Dates
     
    As we discussed in our recent grade/division-level parent meetings, milestone and end-of-year celebrations are all being reimagined in order to celebrate our students at these key moments in time. As you will see on the list below some of these events will be held live, some will be pre-recorded and “launched” on a certain day and others will have a mix of live and pre-recorded content. Ultimately, all of them will provide students with an opportunity to shine and our community with the opportunity to kvell!
     
    Our Community
     
    Dr. Todd Rose of the Harvard Graduate School of Education aptly notes, "Ultimately you can have all the tech in the world, but really great learning is a human endeavor…It's about the teacher and student relationship." At Golda Och Academy we are committed to that relationship both on campus and on remote. Our community is incredibly strong because we care about and look after one another — through both the good and difficult times. If you are in need of additional support, would like to speak with one of our professionals and/or need a referral for services, please know that we are here and stand ready to help.
     
    Thank you for your continued partnership and the trust you place in us every day. Sending my best to all of our parents, students and teachers for good health and safety as we continue to weather this storm. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • May 5: Governor Murphy’s Announcement

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    As I am confident you all know by now, Governor Murphy announced yesterday that all public and independent schools in New Jersey will remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. While this news is heartbreaking and disappointing for students, teachers and parents alike, it is the correct decision and puts the health, safety and well-being of our community at the center. 
     
    While the focus at this moment is to continue to provide high-level remote instruction for the remaining weeks of the school year, we are also looking ahead and preparing for 2020-21. Our team is working overtime to ensure that we are prepared for any and all possibilities for the fall and beyond. In the new reality we are all faced with, it is incumbent upon us to be prepared for both in-person and remote instruction in the future. Our teachers and administrators have done an incredible job in meeting the needs of our students to this point while being both responsive and reflective. I am confident that will continue as we work to finalize our plans for the fall. 
     
    This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and it has taken on so much additional meaning this year. First and foremost, the notes of support that have been sent directly to our faculty and posted onto the Wall of Gratitude have been uplifting and inspiring and I thank you all in advance for continuing to share those positive messages with our team. 
     
    Additionally, I want to take a moment to thank our parents who have stepped up in unimaginable ways to assist in the management of our students’ education while balancing their own jobs and other responsibilities at the same time. Never has the termhome-school partnership meant more. As we said in our grade/division level meetings over the last week, we are all in this together and we will all come out stronger on the other side as a result.  
     
    Thank you all for your continued support of our school and students. I look forward to a time when we can all gather again in person and celebrate our special kehillah.  
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • April 17: Updates and Continuation of Remote Instruction

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
     
    I hope that everyone has enjoyed a wonderful holiday and a well-deserved spring break. Hopefully, the time off has enabled us all to take a breath and rejuvenate - if even ever so slightly given our current circumstances. Governor Murphy’s statement yesterday regarding NJ schools being closed through at least Friday, May 15 means that we will continue to be on Remote Instruction for at least four more weeks. 
     
    Breathe…
     
    While the natural reaction may be to feel slightly exasperated and overwhelmed, I do hope that we are all able to take a step back and recognize that our efforts — along with those of our family members, neighbors and friends — are going a long way towards flattening the curve and enabling us to get past this awful pandemic. As other states around us have made the difficult decision to shut down schools for the remainder of the school year, I appreciate that Governor Murphy is taking incremental steps in his decision-making process. Ultimately, we all share the same desire to get our students back to school safely and I remain hopeful that we can do that between now and June. 
     
    Looking ahead to the coming weeks of Remote Instruction, please note the following important updates/information:
     
    • Our faculty — who continue to be absolute superheroes! — will have the opportunity to access our campuses this week in order to retrieve additional materials to assist with their continued instruction.
     
    • Grade Level/Division Meetings — we recognize that there are questions regarding the coming weeks and our administrators and I will make ourselves available — through a schedule that we will publish next week —to meet and speak with all of you. While a more formal invite will go out that will include specific topics, we will discuss our continued remote instruction plan, upcoming milestone events and address concerns/questions you may have regarding the social-emotional health and well-being of your children. 
     
    • Retrieving materials from school — At this time, we are also exploring ways for families to retrieve additional materials, if necessary, from school. In order to do this safely and in accordance with state-mandated health guidelines, we will share information once it’s available. 
     
    As we continue to be physically distanced from one another, our communal connections grow stronger and I want to thank everyone again for their ongoing support of our school and students. While we remain uncertain as to when we will ultimately emerge from this crisis, I am confident that we will come out much stronger on the other side. In the meantime, I continue to send good thoughts for health and safety to our entire GOA community and all of your loved ones as well.
     
    Shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 31: April 6th Programming and Looking Ahead to Pesach

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    Joining together with hundreds of members of both our GOA and the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (Bryn Mawr, PA) community for Havdalah this past weekend was yet another reminder of the importance of creating special communal moments in these very physically distanced times. To see so many smiling faces illuminated by the havdalah candles flickering all over my computer screen was quite special and brought a greater sense of connectedness into our home. I hope that the same was true for all who participated as well. Our Jewish Life and Experiential Education team has done an excellent job creating meaningful programming that has enabled our community to be brought even closer together at this difficult time — I very much look forward to that continuing. 
     
    Our team has worked tirelessly to incorporate the feedback they are receiving into the ongoing changes that you have seen with our remote instruction plans, and I want to once again thank all of them — faculty and administrators alike — for diving in, head-first, to this process. At times it has been both stressful and anxiety provoking — especially given the other challenges we are facing. This process, however, has enabled our students to feel grounded and somewhat normal in these anything-but-normal times. 
     
    As we move into week 3 of Remote Instruction, I wanted to provide the following important updates/reminders:
     
    ·    Pesach is coming next week and recognizing the incredible uniqueness that these last few weeks have presented us with and the challenges we will all face in our preparations for the chag, we will be doing the following:
     
    ·    On Monday, April 6 we will not follow a regular remote instruction schedule. Instead, we are in the process of finalizing a special programming schedule that will be sent out later this week which will include pre-Pesach activities for students and parents to participate in on Monday. Please note that some of these will be live and others recorded. All will be open for Pre-K-12th grade students unless otherwise noted in the description. 
     
    ·    While Tuesday, April 7 had originally been scheduled as a noon dismissal on our school calendar, it will now be the first day of our Pesach break. Students will be able to use this time as review should they wish, however there will be no formal instruction during the morning.
     
    ·    We recognize that this break will be like none we’ve ever experienced. While it’s important that we all take this time to disconnect (as much as possible) and gear up for the last part of the school year, we do understand that many will still be looking to keep their children engaged. To that end, you will be receiving more information from the school (prior to break) with suggestions and recommendations from our faculty and staff on how students can remain enriched and engaged throughout the chag.
     
    ·    Our Jewish Life and Experiential Education team will be providing opportunities (for both parents and students) to virtually come together later this week and early next to discuss the complexities of Pesach this year and provide all of us with some guidance and creative thoughts and ideas for the sedarim (more details to follow).
     
    ·    We ask that everyone be respectful and mindful of the time needed for both preparation and celebration of the chag and thank you all in advance for refraining from contacting teachers over the break. 
     
    Our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly over these past few weeks both setting up and executing our remote instruction plan. Many are putting in twice as much time (if not more) every day and I know that our entire GOA community joins me in thanking them for their efforts while also recognizing that they, too, need to prepare for Pesach. So many of you have shared positive praise for them and much of that has been incorporated into our Wall of Gratitude. Please know that we welcome more of these messages and look forward to this wall continuing to grow every day! 
     
    In my original email about our school closure on Thursday, March 12, I noted that it was our hope to return to school following Pesach on Monday, April 20. Our world has certainly gone through dramatic change since earlier this month and at this point the decision to return is very much out of our hands. We are still hopeful to return to school just after the break, and we will continue to take our guidance from both our state and federal officials on this matter. We will keep our GOA community posted as we learn more and will be in touch prior to the end of Pesach with an update on our post-break plans.
     
    I know that we are all eager to return to school, work and our normal lives on Gregory Avenue and Pleasant Valley Way and very much look forward to doing so once we can be sure it’s safe and prudent. In the meantime, I want to wish everyone in our community continued strength and good health as we continue to deal with our new reality.
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 20: Bringing Week 1 to a Close

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community, 
     
    Our new (ab)normal is here and I am truly in awe of our community. Our teachers have stepped up in ways that none of them could have even imagined a few short weeks ago, our students have risen to the occasion while adjusting to new modalities of instruction and I know that our parents have been working hard to juggle their professional and personal lives amidst all this uncertainty. This is stressful and anxiety provoking and it goes without saying that none of us want to be in this position. 
     
    Alas, we are here, we have no choice in the matter and, most importantly, we are in this together. Over the course of the past four days, Golda Och Academy has gone “remote”and I am incredibly proud of our teachers. They have been reflective and responsive while making changes and adjustments on the fly. Your feedback has been invaluable as we’ve worked to strike the proper balance when it comes to the schedule, posting assignments and how to structure them. In the coming weeks you will continue to see updates and changes, increased opportunities for our students and teachers to interact with one another and an even more streamlined approach to remote instruction in certain age ranges (ie. early childhood, elementary, middle and high school). 
     
    As we look ahead to Shabbat, my request for our community is that we all take a moment to remember that Shabbat provides us with an opportunity to disconnect from the week that has passed and recharge for the week ahead. With that in mind, I ask that we all take a break from technology, emails and any other form of communication between now and Monday. All of us as individuals — parents, teachers and students alike — need this time to practice self-care. Please know that I have made the same request of our faculty and administration in asking them to hold off on responding to communications until next week.
     
    When Rena and I bless our children every Friday night we also pause to reflect on the week that has passed and share what we are grateful for. This week I am particularly grateful for everyone who has shared words of appreciation and admiration for GOA. If you have not yet had a chance to see (or add to) the Wall of Gratitude, I highly encourage you to do so. 
     
    Last but certainly not least, this past week’s Community Tefillah led by Rabbi Yolkut was incredibly special and I look forward to once again gathering our community together tomorrow for a joyous Virtual Havdalah Celebration (click here to join us via Zoom at 8 pm)led by Rabbi Yolkut and our Golden Ochtaves Choir Director, Mr. Craig Resmovits.  
     
    Shabbat shalom,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 16: US Remote Instruction Information

    US students and parents can reach our guide for Remote Instruction by logging into the GOA website, and going to Resource Boards.

    Use this Guide to see the schedule, expectations, Live with Mr. H., Tefillah , Research Resources, and Tech Support.

  • March 16: Community Best Practices, Neshama Trip Returning, Managing Stress and Anxiety, Illness and Diagnosis Reporting Form

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,

    While we have labeled both Friday and Monday as “snow days,” this has been done in name only in order to signify that no formal learning would take place. These days, and the weeks to follow, are anything but normal and should not be treated, under any circumstance, as extended vacation/playdate days. The reason for our closing is not to lengthen our break, rather it has been done in an effort to “flatten the curve” and keep our community as healthy and safe as possible. Our success will be measured, simply put, by how serious everyone in our community — and extended community — adheres to these recommendations. It is our ultimate goal to return to school following Pesach and this will only happen if we all work hard to stay physically distanced and healthy throughout this time.

    Practically speaking, this means that sleepovers, playdates, parties and social gatherings simply should not take place. Parents, I know that your kids may request this time with their friends and will make it difficult for you to say no, unfortunately this is one of those moments when parenting becomes even more critical as you have to do just that. You’re being tasked with having your kids at home and separated from their peers which I know is counter to all that we want for our young people (and for ourselves!).

    In all of my reading over these past weeks, I have encountered a number of important articles and many are shared on our information about the coronavirus webpage. Earlier this week, I came across a particularly poignant article written by Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer, a licensed psychologist who trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow, and worked for many years with the multi-layered issues of trauma, integration, and behavioral change. This article struck a chord as it lays out the true importance of taking this moment seriously. Dr. Schmelzer has challenged all of us to, “make our response to this crisis our finest hour.” To do so we need to be unified in our work and committed to even the smallest acts of kindness and pikuach nefesh (the halakhic principle that instructs us about the importance of saving a life over all else). While there is much to read and even more to do at this hectic time in our lives, I’d highly encourage all of you to take a few moments to read this article as I know it will further support and solidify the need for all of us to distance ourselves from one another - no matter how painful - for the greater good.

    I also wanted to take a moment in this email to provide some important updates and information to our community. Please read to the end and, as always, do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.

    Important Information/Updates

    • Unfortunately, due to new Israeli governmental regulations that came through late Saturday night, we have had to make the difficult decision of bringing our Neshama students home. While we are sad that it’s come to this, we had to act in the best interests of our students and in an effort to keep them as safe as possible. They will be arriving back home early on Tuesday morning.

    • At this point, everyone has received communication from either Mrs. Siegel or Mr. Herskowitz and more specific, grade-level, emails have either already been sent (Upper School) or will be arriving in your inbox today (Lower School). I hope that you have noted the care, creativity and dedication that have gone into these communications. Our teachers are, in a word, awesome, and they are diving into this entire process head-first along with our students. We have no doubt that there may be bumps along the way and while we welcome the feedback, we also ask for everyone’s patience and support as we move into this new reality of remote instruction beginning on Tuesday.

    • One of the most important responsibilities we all have in the coming weeks is to manage stress and anxiety — both in ourselves and our children. There are many great resources posted on our coronavirus webpage and I direct your attention to this page on the CDC website which focuses on this topic and provides additional resources as well.

    • In an effort to keep track of our community during this extended physical absence from school, we ask that you complete this Coronavirus (COVID-19) Illness & Diagnosis Reporting Form if your child or a member of your immediate family tests positive for coronavirus. It goes without saying that we never want this form to be used, however, we must be prepared accordingly.
     
    We are all so blessed to be a part of the Golda Och Academy community. Of course, our strength comes from being together every day and as we separate from one another in the weeks ahead; I know it may prove difficult. It is my hope that we can instead turn this into an adventure. I’m certain it will have its ups and downs but am confident that it will ultimately be a growth opportunity for all of us. We encourage you to reach out and speak with and FaceTime one another. We must check in and see how friends and loved ones are doing. Our friendships and connections don’t end simply because we are not physically together; instead they evolve into something even more special.

    At this moment we need each other and while we can’t hop in the car and head to Gregory Avenue or Pleasant Valley Way, we can very much still be “together” as a community. These next few weeks will continue to present challenges and I am confident that we will face this together and come out even stronger on the other side.

    Praying for the health and safety of our entire GOA community,

    In partnership,

    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 12: School Closed for Students

    As I said in my email yesterday, we have continued to monitor this situation on a minute-by-minute and hourly basis. Throughout these processes we have consulted both internally and externally, planned together as a leadership team and have worked hard to ensure we are making the best decisions possible. Ultimately, I am hopeful that everyone understands at this point that the question is no longer if, but rather when. Our team has been hard at work planning for the inevitable and I have dedicated the majority of my time over the last two weeks to considering all possible options. Above all, I am thankful that at this time we do not have any students, faculty or staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and it is very much our hope to keep it that way.

    Following extensive consultation, we have concluded that in order for us to effectively keep our community safe while rolling out our remote instruction plan, we need to begin that process now. We are fortunate that our students and teachers remain healthy at this time and also recognize that our community and country may be in a very different place by this time next week. If we are to effectively roll out this plan for remote instruction, it is far better to jump into that process from a place of calm and preparedness as opposed to doing so hastily.

    Beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13, Golda Och Academy will be closed for our students through Pesach Break. Our return date is subject to change — either earlier or later — based on ongoing communications with health professionals and guidance from the State of NJ.

    Our faculty will be on campus tomorrow doing professional development work in order to ensure that they are fully ready to go with both synchronous and asynchronous instruction and that preparation will continue through Monday. I will be meeting both virtually (this evening) and tomorrow with our faculty and leadership team in order to further review our plans. Parents and students will learn more — between now and Monday from their teachers. At this point, it is our plan to begin remote instruction on Tuesday but that is subject to change as we work through all of the details internally.

    To be clear, both Friday and Monday will be treated as “snow days” for our students and there will be no remote instruction.

    During school today, as you are reading this email, we will be preparing our students on both campuses for an extended absence. In order to maintain calm within our student body, I ask you to please refrain from texting/calling your children during the school day. Both Mrs. Siegel and Mr. Herskowitz will be meeting with our students to further explain our remote instruction plans and will also be asking them to take whatever materials home that they need for learning.

    Please know that this is not a decision that we have arrived at lightly. While we are one small part of the overall ecosystem in this country, I feel strongly that we must do our part to socially distance ourselves from one another and help to slow the spread of this virus. I also know that this decision will put a tremendous burden on many of our families and I thank you all in advance for your help and diligence in keeping your family — and our entire community — safe and strong.

    We will continue to be in touch as this situation develops.

    In partnership,

    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 11: Policies Related to Programs, Trips, Athletics, and Travel

    The halls of both buildings were very much alive yesterday as we celebrated Purim here at GOA. For those who haven’t had a chance to see the wonderful images from the day, please click here for pictures. Once the month of Adar begins (which we celebrated at the end of February) it’s customary to say the phrase “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha” which translates to, “when the month of Adar arrives we should increase our joy!” While conversations about coronavirus have not exactly led us to a place of increasing our joy, I am incredibly grateful to our faculty, staff and students who were able to push this topic aside yesterday and create joyous moments together. 
     
    With the World Health Organization now declaring this coronavirus a pandemic, I wanted to provide another update to our community as part of our ongoing effort to keep everyone engaged and informed. We continue to follow the guidance of our local health department and information being conveyed from the State of New Jersey and encourage you to visit the Coronavirus Information page on our website for the most up-to-date information and resources. We continue to monitor this situation on a minute-by-minute and hourly basis as we weigh all of the potential next steps for our school and community. This includes planning for a possible school closure and a move to remote instruction — should the situation warrant and we be advised to do so — as well as the program adjustments and policy changes listed below.
     
    As we look ahead to the rest of the school year, I want to share more about our plans for upcoming programming, trips and athletics and also provide additional guidance as it relates to parent/family travel. We appreciate everyone understanding that we continue to operate and make decisions out of an abundance of caution in an effort to keep our students and faculty safe and healthy.
     
    School Programs and Trips
     
    Our team is currently assessing all programs and trips in both the short and long term. Between now and Pesach break, we are canceling all student field trips that take students away from GOA. Please note that student visits between campuses will continue as planned. Additionally, all programs and milestone events that welcome large groups of guests will be either canceled/postponed or reimagined as virtual experiences. Specific details for each of these will be shared out in advance by the program organizers. 
     
    Athletics
     
    With the spring sports season now underway, we are taking precautionary measures to minimize the spread of illness. To that end, our student-athletes will be reminded to wash their hands often and bring their own water bottles to practices and games. Our athletic facilities (gyms, locker rooms and weight room) and equipment will continue to receive a deep clean every day. We continue to encourage all student-athletes (and all students) to stay home if they are feeling ill in accordance with our school policies. 
     
    At this time, we hope to proceed with our entire spring season, uninterrupted. However, should it be necessary to cancel any of our upcoming sporting events, parents and athletes will be notified accordingly. Please also note that non-GOA fans will not be permitted to attend indoor (volleyball) matches this season. Should our opponents request the same of us, we ask that you comply. While we do not feel it necessary to impose the same regulation on those attending outdoor sporting events at this time, we reserve the right to adjust as needed. Should you have any specific questions about athletics, please reach out directly to our Director of Athletics, Mr. Dennis Kozar
     
    Parent/Family Travel
     
    We appreciate that many of our GOA parents travel as part of their jobs and that families may have travel plans booked in the weeks ahead. Out of an abundance of caution, we now ask that anyone (parent or household member) who has traveled in the past 30 days and/or has plans to travel between now and the end of the school year, please complete the following form GOA Parent Travel Information Form in order to submit this critical information to our school nurses. Should there be a need to restrict either parent/student access to our school, we thank you in advance for your compliance. 
     
    The above guidelines are in place, effective immediately, however this continues to be an ever-evolving situation. We are committed to staying in touch with you as often as necessary and to sharing updates accordingly. 
     
    In partnership,
     
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School
  • March 8: Jewish-Canadian Youth Model UN Attendees Return To School on Monday

    We wanted to close the loop following the email (update #2) that was sent to all of you on Thursday, March 5 regarding our Golda Och Academy students who traveled to Montreal as part of the Jewish-Canadian Youth Model UN Program. We have now received confirmation both from the leadership at SAR and from the Montreal Jewish Federation, that the two students in question from the SAR delegation at the Model UN have remained asymptomatic and are now at the end of their 14-day incubation period. As such, our students will be permitted to return to school tomorrow.

    We know that many of you have continued to follow the news closely and may have seen that SAR has extended their school closure through this week. Please note that this change was due to other factors separate from the Model UN program.

    Just as we have been, we will continue to monitor this situation closely and work with our local officials in order to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to keep our students and community safe. Towards that end, we have also established a GOA Coronavirus Taskforce comprised of medical and legal experts along with members of our Board of Trustees. This team will work closely with me in order to provide guidance and assistance as we navigate any further developments.
  • March 5: Jewish-Canadian Youth Model UN Attendees

    Dear Golda Och Academy Parents,

    Out of an overabundance of caution, and in an effort to be as transparent as possible when it comes to sharing news about our response to the coronavirus, I am passing along the email (below) that I received last night from Yair Szlak, CEO of the Montreal Jewish Federation. He sent the following message, a letter from Dr. Earl Rubin, the Head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Montreal Children’s Hospital, following this past week's Jewish-Canadian Youth Model UN Competition that 20 of our high school students attended.

    As a result of the possible exposure to students from the SAR delegation, we will be following the guidance (below) and keeping our GOA Model UN delegation (students and teachers) out of school until Monday, March 9.

    We will continue to apprise our entire community of any new information and have set up a page on our website where all coronavirus-related updates and resources will be posted.

    In partnership,
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School

    --------------------

    From: Yair Szlak
    Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 8:49 PM
    To: Yair Szlak
    Subject: Important Update on Students participating in the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN Conference

    Good Evening,

    You are receiving this email because one or more student/s at your school participated in the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN Conference between March 1st to 3rd, 2020. While Federation CJA does not run the Model UN Program, as it is completely a Student run program, we have been deeply implicated with ensuring that the appropriate recommendations are made and that the proper communication of the current situation takes place.

    This communication follows consultation with Federation CJA’s Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 over the past few hours in order to come to the recommendations below.

    Late this afternoon, we were made aware that at least two participants from New York have come into contact with an individual that has tested positive for COVID-19.

    The following is important information regarding the situation from Dr. Earl Rubin. This is a recommended course of action for the Schools involved. As you understand, the situation with COVID-19 remains fluid and continues to evolve as the world comes to grips with dealing with the virus. Our recommendations are made based on the best information we have at this time.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    March 4, 2020
    Re: Model UN conference March 1-3, 2020

    Possible, but unlikely, exposure to Covid-19 (novel Coronavirus)

    Dear Heads of School,

    BOTTOM LINE: There is a possible exposure, albeit unlikely, that may have occurred at the Jewish Canadian Youth Model UN. Until we have further details, Federation CJA, in conjunction with Infectious Diseases at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Dr. Earl Rubin), have recommended that the students, who attended the Model UN, not attend school until Monday March 9th at which point a further directive will follow.

    Details leading to this move are outlined below. All of the information is included for those that want all the details to best understand the rationale of the above

    FACTS:

    As you know, the Model UN conference took place in Montreal from March 1st to 3rd. 180 participants attended the conference, 94 of whom are from the following Montreal area schools: Bialik - 20 students, Hebrew Academy - 23 students, Herzliah - 16 students, Selwyn House - 1 student, and 34 local student leaders from CEGEP and university.

    As part of the 180 student delegation, there were 20 students from SAR High School in New York. Public Health New York has asked to close this school until Monday, March 9th as a possible exposure may have occurred there. The story, as we understand it, is as follows:

    A father of one of the SAR students is currently hospitalized with Covid-19. His family members are also infected, some are symptomatic and others are asymptomatic. No members of this family attended the Model UN.

    The working hypothesis is that the father was at a Bar Mitzvah on February 22nd and a funeral on February 23rd and may have exposed others to the infection there.

    The concern surrounds at least 2 Model UN participants who had contact with the patient during or following one of these events.

    The incubation period from contact to manifesting symptoms is up to 14 days (which would end March 8th), but the majority display symptoms between days 4-7. While incubating, and have no symptoms, the chance of transmission is thought to be unlikely. These 2 students would have been at the Model UN on days 7-10 after their contact. Both remain ASYMPTOMATIC. On a balance of probabilities, it is unlikely they are infected.

    RECOMMENDATION:

    We have discussed the situation with Public Health Montreal. They are NOT concerned, and their recommendation would be that no intervention is needed at this time. Therefore, Federation CJA will be reaching out to all schools with the recommendation that the Model UN students stay at home until Monday, March 9th. At that time the 14-day incubation period would have been completed, and if these 2 students from SAR High School remain well, they are NOT infected and do not pose any issue to the other students who attended the Model UN.

    Siblings of Model UN participant have only been in contact for the last 1-2 days. There is NO need to keep these siblings at home.

    We understand that these students did go to school today, but 1-3 days after an exposure to an asymptomatic person, they would NOT have symptoms, would NOT have a high enough viral burden to infect those around them. Therefore, today’s attendance is of no consequence.
     
    Federation CJA will stay on top of the situation, which is an ever evolving story, and will communicate with you before Monday morning with any and all updates. If the SAR students do display symptoms between now and Sunday, a further directive will follow.

    So, just to re-iterate, the risks are minimal if not negligible. But to alleviate concerns and questions, we thought it be best to err on the side of caution, and recommend that the Model UN students NOT attend school for the rest of the week.
    I apologize for the lengthy letter, but hope this is clear and clarifies the situation.

    Dr. Earl Rubin
    Division Head
    Pediatric Infectious Diseases
    Montreal Children’s Hospital
    _____________________________________________________
    Yair Szlak, B.A, LL.B
    Chef de la direction | Chief Executive Officer
    FEDERATION CJA
  • March 4: Preparing for Remote Learning, Mental Health and Well-Being

    As we all continue to follow the news, it is difficult not to be consumed and feel increased anxiety about coronavirus (COVID-19). While it’s impossible for me to allay your fears, I did want to send an update with information (beyond that which went out from Nurses Ilena and Roberta last week) in an effort to help you better understand what we are working on from the standpoint of emergency preparedness and the health and well-being of our community.

    First and foremost, it’s important that everyone heed the directives set forth by the CDC when it comes to preventative measures that each of us can and should take to stay healthy. In addition, our leadership team has taken the necessary steps - based on recommendations both from the CDC, local Department of Health and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) - to put emergency plans in place should there be a need to close our school for an extended period of time.

    In the event of such a closure, please know we will do all that we can to provide meaningful remote instruction for our students. This instruction will vary based on age and appropriate learning goals by subject. Should the need arise to put this plan in motion, specific plans will be forthcoming from Mrs. Siegel, Mr. Herskowitz and our teachers. In the meantime, we have put the following information together in order to guide you as you prepare for this potential alternate learning experience.

    Preparing for Remote Learning

    On the first two days of a potential extended closure, we would not hold classes (much like a snow day). These days would be used both to gather and disseminate information to our community and would also provide our faculty with the chance to spend time adjusting assignments and participating in a series of online meetings to fully ramp up for remote instruction.
    We would begin remote instruction on day 3 (and continue on subsequent days) which would include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

    Students in grades 5-11 should have access to a laptop, smartphone or other WiFi enabled device in order to fully participate in remote learning. We have upgraded our Google Suite for Students to include Google Meet (the professional version of Google Hangouts which is similar to Zoom). Students will have access to this simply by logging into their @goastudent.org account.

    We ask that all students have access to a printer and that you have sufficient paper and ink should assignments require printing. Additionally, access to a scanning application (there are multiple free versions that can be downloaded) may be necessary for submitting certain assignments.

    As always, our Acceptable Use Policy (which can be found in our Student Handbook) provides guidance for our students, and we ask that you reinforce this messaging with your children.

    Mental Health and Well-Being

    Based on the updated recommendations from the NJ Department of Health, our cleaning crew has increased their focus on sanitizing/disinfecting all surfaces, paying close attention to “high contact” surfaces such as doorknobs, desks and tabletops.

    By the end of the week, Nurses Ilena and Roberta will have spent time with all students reviewing proper hygiene as it relates to coughing and sneezing, refraining from touching one’s face and demonstrating effective hand washing techniques. They also reiterated the message that students should stay home if they are feeling ill.

    Our teachers and guidance team continue to monitor our students for signs of increased stress and anxiety. We ask that you do the same by checking in with your children and reaching out should you need our support. Additionally, please consider using the following resources when speaking with your children: Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus (NPR); How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus (New York Times)

    In order to do all we can to keep our school community healthy, we ask that all visitors to campus who have traveled outside of the country (or to a known hotspot for COVID-19) let either Nurse Ilena or Nurse Roberta know prior to coming to campus.

    The health and well-being of all members of our Golda Och Academy community are our highest priority. Our team, along with our Board of Trustees, will continue to monitor the recommendations coming from the CDC and our local officials and will update you accordingly.
  • February 27: Message from the Nurses

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,

    As you are likely aware, on Tuesday, February 25th, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave a press conference updating the country on the status of the coronavirus (COVID-19). We wanted to share with you some of the steps our school is taking to prevent the spread of illness and plan for the possible spread of the coronavirus in our community.

    As the CDC emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A pandemic occurs when a disease is spreading from a variety of sources across a large region, and the number of cases across the US is still small. However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring new developments and will continue to reevaluate our steps and actions daily.

    In the meantime, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow general flu prevention measures, including:

    • Cover your mouth with your sleeve when coughing and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve, not your hands.
    • Keep hands/fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol‐based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
    • Stay home from school and work if you are unwell.
    • Adhere to GOA exclusion policies: fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication before returning to work or school.
    • Avoid contact with sick people.
    • Flu vaccination for those not yet vaccinated.
    At this time, there are no recommendations for the cancellation of school or extracurricular events. These are extreme measures that can be disruptive to day-to-day life, and any decision to implement will be at the direction of public health experts. Our community is prepared to alter our procedures and planning should the situation change. We will communicate any changes clearly when the time is appropriate.

    For the most up-to-date information, we recommend that you refer to the CDC's website. Additionally, travel restrictions can be found here.

    For information specific to your child or family, please contact your healthcare provider.

    For all general inquiries about COVID-19, New Jersey has opened up a 24-Hour Public Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

    In times like this, we are particularly grateful for the support and understanding of our Golda Och Academy community. Please continue to look for further communications from us on this matter.

    In partnership,

    Nurse Ilena and Nurse Roberta

Preventing Illness

Public health officials recommend the following steps people should take to reduce their risk of getting and spreading any viral respiratory infections. These include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.